Whitney Tilt, former board of directors chair at Gallatin Valley Land Trust and currently a principal at Conservation Benchmarks in Bozeman, writes in Outside Bozeman that the importance of private working lands to Montana conservation cannot be overstated. Tilt’s article is focused on the Greater Yellowstone area, but his comments ring true for all of Montana.
“As we extol our public lands—of which we can be justly proud—let us not overlook the importance of private working lands. For these are the most valuable lands in Montana, in terms of healthy soil and water, and in providing essential food and habitat for our state’s treasured wildlife,” he writes.
He adds, “Countless studies have documented the biological richness of the GYE. It is routinely described as ‘one of the largest nearly intact temperate zone ecosystems on Earth.’ It is a region renowned for its geological wonders, abundant wildlife, and scenic vistas. But often overlooked, amidst all the superlatives, is the tremendous importance of the region’s private lands and the owners who maintain them as working lands. These ranchers and farmers are the stewards of many of the things we enjoy most about living in this region—from abundant wildlife to healthy landscapes.”
The Montana land trust community is honored to work with landowners across Montana on conservation projects that benefit agricultural production, local economies, farm and ranch conservation, wildlife habitat, and more.