Land Trust News

Kelly Kountz Photo / Courtesy of Gallatin Valley Land Trust

Historic Week for Montana and US Land Conservation

by Glenn Marx, MALT Executive Director

The past week showcased the broad support and diverse value of land conservation in Montana.

The Montana Board of Land Commissioners (aka Land Board) approved three different Montana FWP recreation and access projects on July 20, and each of the three projects featured an important Montana land trust partnership. Each project was also approved by a 5-0 vote.

Mike Mueller of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation engaged Governor Bullock with some friendly banter about elk bugling during a discussion of the Garrity Mountain Wildlife Management Area expansion. Gates Watson of The Conservation Fund was a key supporter of the Confluentus Corner Fishing Access Site, and TCF’s financial agility helped make the project possible. Gavin Ricklefs offered compelling testimony when he spoke in support of the C. Ben White Memorial Fishing Access Site. Three projects, three strong partnerships, three unanimous votes. Pretty impressive.

The Great American Outdoors Act received 370 votes July 23 on the US House of Representatives floor, capping the congressional (and political) miracle of full permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. It is hard to put the magnitude of that accomplishment in context.

Speaking of the LWCF, LWCF funds are a critical component in The Trust for Public Land’s collaborative landscape conservation project with MTFWP, USF&WS and Southern Pine Plantations in northwest Montana. Every time I see a headline about the project the acreage  seems to somehow magically grow, and is now around 300,000 acres.

Finally, last week Gallatin Valley Land Trust announced it – with assistance from the NRCS and Gallatin County Open Lands Program – will permanently protect the over 100-year-old Spring Family Farm.

Ponder, for a moment, the diversity and value of that collection of projects and efforts. Not a bad week, indeed.