Land Trust News

Kelly Kountz Photo / Courtesy of Gallatin Valley Land Trust

BRLT, Project Partners Conserve “Best Soils”

      Bitter Root Land Trust, the Sutherlin family, Montana NRCS and the ALE Program, and the Ravalli County Open Land Program have teamed up to conserve 378 acres of “the most productive farmland in the the state.” 

     The Ravalli Republic reports the conservation easement will conserve agricultural lands in the Bitterroot Valley, and fulfill a long-tern dream of rancher Bob Sutherlin.

     From the article: “We wanted to keep it in ag,” Sutherlin said. “It’s all we have ever wanted to do with the ground and don’t want to see anything else done with it.”

     The funds that will offset the value the family gave up by placing an easement on the property will go toward adding additional land in the Bitterroot to raise crops and cattle.

     “We’re going to add to the farm with what we got from the land trust,” Sutherlin said. “We’re not going out and buying a new Cadillac. We’re going to add land to it. We want to farm. He (their son) wants to farm and I have three grandsons who might want to farm too.”     

     The Sutherlin project is another example of BRLT and Ravalli County landowners working with the NRCS and within the Farm Bill’s Agricultural Land Easement program and county open land program. 

    BRLT executive director Gavin Ricklefs said in the article that land preserved by the Sutherlin family is some of the most productive farmland in the state.

      “They are on our best soils,” Ricklefs said. “That area between Corvallis and Stevensville on the Eastside Highway is some of the best ground in the state of Montana.”

Photo Bob Sutherlin; Perry Backus photo