Land Trust News

Kelly Kountz Photo / Courtesy of Gallatin Valley Land Trust

Flathead Land Trust’s Laura Katzman Works to Conserve “Special Places”

     Laura Katzman’s story isn’t different from a lot of people who now call Montana home. She arrived here from somewhere else—Wisconsin—to obtain a master’s degree from the University of Montana, stayed, and found a job in conservation. She began work as a fisheries biologist for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, took some family time off with her husband and kids, and then in 2008 her career—and life—took a turn toward private land conservation. 

     The Flathead, particularly Flathead Land Trust, is glad she did.

     A feature article in the Kalispell Daily Inter Lake profiles Katzman’s tenure as a land protection specialist with FLT, highlighting her efforts on a myriad of high profile Flathead conservation projects. Some of her and FLT’s notable projects include the Somers Beach Project (a partnership with MTFWP), the West Valley wetlands project, the popular Flathead Lake North Shore efforts, and the Smith Lake wildlife and wetlands project. Another major FLT partnership project, the proposed Bad Rock Canyon Wildlife Management Area with MT FWP, was recently approved unanimously by the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission and on Nov. 15 was unanimously by the Montana Land Board. All the while she has also focused on the River to Lake Initiative.

     “It (The River to Lake Initiative) has been meeting for 20 years and we’ve developed partnerships with Flathead Audubon, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribe, Fish, Wildlife and Parks and others,” Katzman said in the article. “The project area is critical to fish and wildlife and for people who are living in the valley near the river, we love working with them to protect those areas.”

     She also discusses the value of conservation easements to local landowners.

     “When we work on conservation easements we always work with the landowners to help them achieve their goals with their land,” Katzman said. “We’re not trying to take private land. It’s all about what the landowner wants.”

     The article notes more FLT partnership projects are in progress…Bigfork Community Trails, a project in the Mission Valley, and one along the Stillwater River.

     “Our hope is to continue to protect the special places in the Flathead Valley,” Katzman said in the article. “The rich farmland, fish and wildlife and the things people come here for.”