Land Trust News

Kelly Kountz Photo / Courtesy of Gallatin Valley Land Trust

Prickly Pear Land Trust, Montana Army National Guard, Receive National Partnership Award

Prickly Pear Land Trust and the Montana Army National Guard were in Washington, DC, to receive an Army Community Partnership Award. The award was one of ten national awards saluting partnerships that protect the missions of military installations, benefit communities and local residents, and conserve open land.

This quote from Maj. Gen. Matthew Quinn, adjutant general for Montana, illustrates the importance of the partnership:

“The Montana Army National Guard and the Prickly Pear Land Trust partnership is a national model of how government agencies and community programs can work together to protect both military training resources and stewardship of Montana’s greatest treasure, our open space,” Maj. Gen. Matthew Quinn, adjutant general for Montana, said. “The Montana National Guard is dedicated to serving our communities and citizens along with protecting the training resources critical to support the readiness of our troops for generations to come which is also a shared goal of PPLT.”

Land Trusts Seek RCPP Participation

by Tom Mallon, Montana ALE Program Coordinator

December 3 marked the deadline to submit Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) proposals for the 2019 funding cycle. Two Montana land trusts –  Bitter Root Land Trust and Five Valleys Land Trust, and the Heart of the Rockies Initiative – submitted RCPP proposals with hopes of funding landscape-scale conservation projects in Montana through NRCS’ innovative, partner-driven program. 

In addition, the Gallatin Valley Land Trust RCPP renewal had been approved in November, which means three Montana land trusts – 25% of the MALT membership – and HOTR are seeking to participate in the current RCPP process. RCPP was amended significantly through the 2018 Farm Bill, and land trusts that submitted proposals this go-around were faced with substantial uncertainty during the application period leading up to last week. The RCPP interim-final rules have not yet been made available to the public, which added a layer of complexity to the application process since it was not possible to fully understand the program in its entirety. Those rules are set to be released in the coming months, which will dictate how the revamped program will operate through 2023. 2019 applicants will tentatively be selected for funding in March of 2020.

Thank you to NRCS staff for their invaluable assistance throughout the application process, including officials at the local, state, and national levels. Countless NRCS partners made themselves available through holding RCPP workshops and webinars, Q&A sessions, and answering a plethora of questions over the phone and via email. Your assistance and partnership is greatly valued and you helped to make the process much less cumbersome for Montana land trusts.  

The Laundress and John Mayer Team Up for Montana Land Conservation

A partnership among musician John Mayer, The Laundress (eco-friendly laundry product sales firm) and the Montana Association of Land Trusts will generate over $32,000 in 2019 for private land conservation in Montana. The funds come from sales proceeds of John Mayer-endorsed products made by The Laundress (branded as Out West) earmarked for MALT and its membership for land conservation projects across the state. John Mayer has a residence in Montana. MALT expresses deep appreciation to all involved for their support of Montana land trust conservation and outdoor recreation projects.

New Funding Source, New Program Details for Gallatin County Open Land Conservation

With the 2004 Gallatin County open lands program bond now exhausted, the county open lands program is shifting to new a funding source – a mill levy – which will generate a finite amount of funding each year (roughly $1.27 million) for voluntary incentive-based private land conservation projects.

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported on Dec. 4 that the new funding process means some tweaks in the program’s rules, and possibly increased competition – and cooperation – among program funding applications.

From the Chronicle article: “We’ll have to be mindful of the money that’s available each year and will make sure to bring forward the projects that do the most conservation,” said Kathryn Kelly, the Greater Yellowstone manager for the Montana Land Reliance, a land trust that works with the open lands program.

The program will offer two windows for project application submittals, with the first 2019 application deadline coming up on Jan. 17.

“More than anything we’ve had one of the best open lands programs in the state for the last 20 years, and we expect it will continue to work well,” Brendan Weiner, Gallatin Valley Land Trust program manager, said in the article. “The big picture is we’re grateful we have a county and taxpayers that want to invest in conservation.”

More Ag Land Conservation in the Bitterroot’s Burnt Fork

Landowners Doug and Janis Astle, the Farm Bill, NRCS, a county conservation funding program and Bitter Root Land Trust have teamed up to conserve 220 acres of prime Bitterroot Valley agricultural lands in the Burnt Fork’s growing “conservation neighborhood.”

The Astles are thinking long-term about who will need this land in the future. “There’s always someone that needs a little space to have cows or whatever they’d want to farm. And if we don’t set some of this aside in this valley, that opportunity will disappear faster than we might realize.”

Montana Land Trusts Participate in GivingTuesday

Dec. 3, 2019 is GivingTuesday, a special day set aside as a time for people to generously donate to organizations and causes they support within their communities. Land trusts provide an array of services to Montanans – open land, community parks, trails, expanded access to public lands, increased outdoor recreational opportunities – and more. If “GivingTuesday is a global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world,” a donation to your favorite land trusts is an excellent way to participate in this special day.

Mary Hollow & Prickly Pear Land Trust In Washington, DC to Receive Award

Prickly Pear Land Trust executive director Mary Hollow will be in Washington, DC, to receive a 2019 Army Community Partnership Award at a ceremony on Dec. 5, 2019, in the Hall of Heroes at the Pentagon. Prickly Pear is one of ten national award winners, all selected for “exceptional community partnerships that have improved readiness, driven modernization and contributed to reform initiatives throughout the Army.”

Prickly Pear worked extensively with the Montana Army National Guard and Fort Harrison on the Peaks to Creeks Project, which includes the Tenmile Creek Park and trails project.

The Army’s press ceremony awards announcement reads: The Montana Army National Guard (MTARNG) and the Prickly Pear Land Trust will be recognized for their “Peaks to Creeks” initiative, which allowed MTARNG to reduce encroachment threats to Fort Harrison while creating public access to 558 acres along the banks of the Ten Mile Creek and Seven Mile Creek waterways. The partnership has also added 72 acres of open space to the Mount Helena City Park, creating new public access to recreational opportunities.

The Tenmile Creek Park and trails project is a nationally recognized community conservation project that provides gentle and wide trails for broad access, connects Tenmile Creek with Spring Meadow State Park, offers great nature learning opportunities and involved several supportive funders and partners to complete. The 2019 Army Community Partnership Award is more recognition of Prickly Pear’s efforts and accomplishments.

Army Press Release

Kaniksu Land Trust Pine Street Woods Rec Center Opens Dec. 21

Kaniksu Land Trust and the Sandpoint Nordic Club will hold a grand opening celebration for the Outdoor Recreation Center at Pine Woods on Dec. 21.

A KLT Facebook post provides additional information about the event.

Pine Street Woods is a 180-acre “gift to the community of Sandpoint” owned by KLT that provides a wealth of year-round outdoor recreation and education opportunities for community residents of all ages.