The Nature Conservancy has completed a conservation project on Montana’s Northern Great Plains that was a few years in the making…but worth the wait.
The 4,340-acre project on the prairie south of Malta includes a unique partnership with landowners. After purchasing the property, TNC sold it to neighboring landowners, with a conservation easement on the property. As part of the partnership, landowners who purchased the property worked to place conservation easements on some of the land they own.
Because the easement on the 4,340 acres prevents cropland conversion, the project makes the land eligible for carbon offset payments, which provides an income stream for the new landowners.
“TNC’s original purchase of this land was a leap of faith for us, since we didn’t wish to be permanent owners. It was based on the trust that we have forged with this ranching community. We are glad to have it in the hands of ranch families with a demonstrated commitment to conservation,” says Brian Martin, Grassland Conservation Director for TNC.
The project area is just north of the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge, and harbors several important and/or declining bird species.
The NRCS ALE Program and The Conservation Fund were key funding partners for the project.
Photo: Jolynn Messerly/TNC