Land Trust News

Kelly Kountz Photo / Courtesy of Gallatin Valley Land Trust

Volunteers Dig In to Help Five Valleys House of Sky Trail

    Over 50 volunteers joined Five Valleys Land Trust on National Public Lands Day to help build a portion of the House of Sky Trail, a new recreational trail in Missoula.

     The Missoulian featured the trail building effort in a featured story accompanied by a handful of stunning photos taken by Missoulian photographer Tom Bauer.

     The 4.5-mile Mount Dean Stone trail is scheduled to open next year and will connect to the High, Wide and Handsome Trail in the Mount Dean Stone Corridor. It will be open for hikers, trail runners and mountain bikers. 

     The trail work was hosted by Mountain Bike Missoula (MTB Missoula), community members along with co-hosts from Five Valleys Land Trust, Montana Trail Crew, and Montana Conservation Corps.

     Photo: Sherri Lee works on a new section of trail on Mount Dean Stone. Tom Bauer/Missoulian photo

Happy National Farmer’s Day!

Today, Oct. 12, is National Farmer’s Day, a time to recognize farm producers across Montana and the country. To all farmers, MALT says Thank You.

Five Valleys Land Trust photo


Forest Legacy Program, Reconciliation Package, Key to Forest Conservation

       Montana’s western forests face many threats, and among those threats is residential development on large tracts of privately held forestlands. An impressive Oct. 7 article in the Flathead Beacon—which includes perspectives from The Trust for Public Land, Stimson Lumber Company,  Green Diamond Resource Company and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks—documents the threats of development as well as the programs and cooperation needed to keep western Montana forestlands intact and producing wood products, maintaining public access and protecting wildlife habitat.

     The article also points out additional funding for forestland conservation is in the much-debated reconciliation bill now before Congress. 

     Three quotes from the article:

“There’s no program in the history of fish and wildlife conservation in Montana that comes close to the Forest Legacy Program in terms of the impact it’s had on maintaining a working landscape, maintaining public recreation access, and protecting critical fish and wildlife connectivity,”said Jim Williams, regional supervisor for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks in northwest Montana. “And we have been fortunate to work with willing timber companies as well as extremely knowledgeable land trust organizations that are the foremost experts on these partnerships.”

     “There’s a saying that there are two income streams from forestry—income for today and value for tomorrow,” Neil Ewald, Green Diamond’s senior vice president and chief operating officer, said. “Well, we’re not desperate for income today. We don’t have any big notes to pay off. But we think we can maximize the value for the future.”

     “These companies are being partially paid and they are partially donating the development rights of their timberland so they can move forward and say, ‘We don’t want the distraction of these unsolicited offers from developers.’ That’s critical. It’s because of those decisions that we are able to keep these working forests on the landscape, keep development pressures at bay and continue to allow public access,” said Chris Deming, senior project manager at The Trust for Public Land.

Chief Creek

GVLT Helps Celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Bozeman

Between Oct. 8-18 Mountain Time Arts is celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day with illuminated teepees in Bozeman near the Gallatin Valley Land Trust trail system at Peets Hill. Lighting of the Teepees will honor the contributions of American Indians to our community, economy, culture, & history. They will be installed on the ancestral lands and traditional use area of the Bitterroot Salish, Pend d’Oreille, Kootenai, Blackfeet, Northern Cheyenne, Crow, Chippewa Cree, Assiniboine, Gros Ventre, Dakota, and other Indigenous nations of this region. For more information visit the Mountain Time Arts website.

RMEF Awards Recognize Partners

      The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation recently presented a series of awards to the major project partners that made the Elkhorn Mountains public acquisition project possible. The project closed earlier in September during an event in the Elkhorns attended by project partners, the media, and area outdoor organizations.

     Seen here (left to right) are Mitch King, Executive Director of Montana’s Outdoor Legacy Foundation; Jeff Hagener, President of the MOLF Board of Directors; Mike Mueller, RMEF Senior Lands Program Manager; Joe Cohenour, Chairman of the RMEF Helena Elkhorn Chapter; Mike Welker, Helena-Lewis & Clark National Forest District Ranger; and John Hagengruber, USFS State Government Liaison. The 1,418-acre project transferred three parcels of land that were among the largest remaining private inholdings within the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest and the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest into accessible public ownership.  RMEF Photo

Montana TNC Shows Challenges of Pronghorn Migration

The Nature Conservancy in Montana released a recent story-map, in partnership with the National Wildlife Federation, providing a comprehensive look at the challenging migration pronghorn face in north central Montana and southern Canada. “It’s not too late to secure these ancient pathways. With the cooperation of landowners, scientists, agencies and conservation organizations, a future for these beautiful animals can be assured,” says Nature Conservancy Range Ecologist Kelsey Molloy. The story-map is titled On the Move and does a remarkable job capturing the perilous journey of the pronghorn as they navigate roads, fences, traffic, and many more obstacles. 

Vital Ground Story-Map Focuses on Connectivity

      The Vital Ground Foundation’s One Landscape Initiative comes alive through a new story-map on the Foundation’s website that captures the vision, goals, and progress of the One Landscape campaign.

     The One Landscape Initiative calls for a conservation focus on 188,000 acres of private land that link the region’s wild strongholds.  

     Created by Vital Ground student intern Jasmin López, the impressive multimedia story-map feature includes video clips from Bob Landis Wildlife Films and Eric Ian’s short film “One Landscape”, as well as project maps and photos, statistics underlying Vital Ground’s science-driven conservation strategy, and a new interactive map showing how connecting One Landscape lands provides climate change resilience for a myriad wildlife species.  

Montana TNC Transfers Marsh to Salish and Kootenai Tribes

      The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and The Nature Conservancy are happy to announce transfer of the 132-acre Safe Harbor Marsh Preserve to the CSKT people. The TNC preserve is within a larger block of CSKT-owned lands and it makes sense that it be owned entirely by the Tribes. TNC is pleased to see these traditional lands return to the hands of the CSKT.

     “TNC originally purchased the property to protect its outstanding conservation values, centered around a large perennial wetland marsh. Transferring the property to CSKT will ensure those values remain protected and restore ownership to the original stewards of the land,” said TNC State Director Amy Croover.

     The transfer is also helping fulfill a long-term vision of the Tribes.

     “The wisdom and generosity expressed through the return of these lands is something we can hope others will see fit to follow,” said CSKT Chairwoman Shelly R. Fyant. “The rebuilding of the last remaining lands of our homeland has remained a key goal for our Council going back to our first Tribal Council in 1935. Our deepest thanks go out to The Nature Conservancy.”

     The Preserve, located in Lake County, is part of a perennial wetland marsh, on Flathead Lake’s west shore, north of Polson. The Preserve lies entirely within the boundaries of the Flathead Reservation and is bordered on three sides by CSKT Tribal Trust Land.  TNC Photo 

Gallatin Valley Land Trust Land Transfer Enhances Recreation

Rachel Leathe of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle took these photos of a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Sept. 16 that celebrated the transfer of 160 acres of land in Middle Cottonwood Canyon to the Forest Service for public use and recreation. The Chronicle article highlighted the work of Gallatin Valley Land Trust in purchasing and conserving the land until public ownership was possible. The ribbon-cutting ceremony (below, left) shows Corey Lewellen, Bozeman district ranger for the Custer Gallatin National Forest, cutting the ribbon, flanked by GVLT executive director Chet Work (left) and GVLT conservation director Brendan Weiner (right). In the photo below at right Chet Work and Brendan Weiner hold up a map of the property. The Chronicle article also pointed out a group of mountain goats observed the ceremony from a ledge above.