Land Trust News

Kelly Kountz Photo / Courtesy of Gallatin Valley Land Trust

Montana Land Reliance Flathead Ag Forum Asks “Who’s Your Farmer?”

The Montana Land Reliance annual Flathead Agricultural Forum is set for Dec. 10 at the Hilton Garden in Kalispell and the title of this year’s forum is “Who’s Your Farmer?” The event runs 8:00 AM to 11:30 AM and is open to the public.

Several agricultural producers from the Flathead Valley have been lined up to speak: Scout Hendrickson – Commercial Hemp Regulations; Tryg Koch – Heritage Custom Farming; Doug Manning – Creston Farmer; Scott Mast – Creston Farmer; Hunter Riddle – Flathead Valley Hops; and Ted Wycall – North Shore Farm.

The forum poster encourages folks to “come hear about the challenges and opportunities facing the young producers of the Flathead.”

For more information about the forum contact MLR’s Mark Schiltz at 406-837-2178. Fltd Ag Forum PS

Gallatin Valley Land Trust and Others Look to Expand Trails West of Bozeman

Gallatin Valley Land Trust is working with several planning and civic entities to plan and possibly create an expansive trails system in a triangular area described as the west side of Bozeman, starting at 19th Street and moving west to Belgrade, including the Four Corners area. A Bozeman Daily Chronicle Nov. 21 article details the concept behind the overall planning proposal, and the specific trails component, which would be modeled after GVLT’s successful Main Street to the Mountains trails system.

     “We’ve seen some great success in other parts of the valley that when there’s a plan in place and some general guidelines about how to connect trails, this can happen,” said EJ Porth, a GVLT spokesperson. “Bozeman is the obvious example with Main Street to the Mountains. … It happened piece by piece, bit by bit, and now 30 years later, we have this great system.”

“Logging for Wildlife” Has Many Benefits

A new short video produced by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks highlights benefits of “wildlife logging.” Montana FWP and The Nature Conservancy in Montana discuss and present information about logging that produces many forest health and local economic benefits. The video focuses on the Blackfoot Wildlife Management Area and efforts to improve forest health, improve forest resiliency, reduce the risk of catastrophic fire, and improve wildlife habitat.

Gallatin Valley Land Trust RCPP Renewed

Good news for Gallatin Valley conservation: The NRCS announced last week that Gallatin Valley Land Trust’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program project (RCPP) has been renewed and funded with $3.8 million. Funds will be allocated toward cooperative conservation easement projects and other conservation and stewardship measures in the Gallatin area. The majority of funds will go directly to farmers and ranchers to complete conservation projects on their properties.

Gallatin Valley Land Trust had been the first land trust in Montana to receive RCPP approval back in 2015, when the national program was launched. GVLT and 17 partners received $3.8 million in funding to acquire seven conservation easements totaling over 2,600 acres. The funding also allowed GVLT and its partners to complete six land stewardship projects with landowners and the NRCS. The 2014 first RCPP allocation to GVLT produced $21 million in total conservation value, providing a 5 to 1 match of federal funds.

RCPP was a new program in the 2014 Farm Bill, and was modified and included with the 2018 Farm Bill, and language within the 2018 Farm Bill allowed existing RCPP partners like GVLT to renew their existing proposal. GVLT learned last week its renewal had been approved. “At a time when the Gallatin Valley is facing unprecedented growth, this special allocation of funds will increase the pace of conservation in the Valley” according to Brendan Weiner, GVLT Program Director. “Thank you to the NRCS for strategically allocating these funds to a place that is committed to conserving its agricultural heritage and has a proven record of conservation success.”

 “This focused partnership project has brought together the resources to conserve more open space and address resource concerns on more acres in the Gallatin Valley than either group could have done individually,” said Tom Watson, NRCS State Conservationist for Montana.


Bill and Dana Milton Receive 2019 Montana Leopold Conservation Award

Congrats to Bill and Dana Milton at the Milton Ranch near Roundup for receiving the Montana 2019 Leopold Conservation Award. The award was announced this week at the Montana Farm Bureau convention. The Montana Land Reliance and the Milton Ranch partnered several years ago to create a conservation easement on the property. The Miltons are richly deserving of this award. MALT had an opportunity to be a part of the Milton Ranch tour earlier last summer.

New Video Shows Helena Trails “Unite Us”

A new YouTube video with the message “our trails unite us” features three different types of Helena trail users on the Mount Helena Trail System who eventually converge at Mount Ascension with an overlook of the Helena Valley. Prickly Pear Land Trust is the community leader in the expansion and maintenance of the local trails system.

The Helena Independent Record reports the video was conceived and created by avid trail user John Doran and a company called SOVRN Creative to “bridge a divide that’s grown” among trail runners, trail hikers and mountain bikers.

In the video (1:41 in length) all three trail users depart from the same parking lot at about the same time, enjoy their trail experience, and by happenstance meet up on Mount Ascension. No words are spoken in the video. The city of Helena is working on an update of its Open Lands Recreation Plan.

RMEF Allocates Over $1 Million in 2019 Elk Research

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation recently announced it has awarded more than $1 million in 2019 to advance elk-related research and that the allocation has leveraged an additional $6.3 million in funding from partners.

From the RMEF website: “Our mission to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage would ring rather hollow without the constant infusion of up-to-date scientific research,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. 

So far in 2019, RMEF provided funding for 33 different research projects in California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, North Carolina, New Mexico, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming. There are also three projects of national benefit.

“It is imperative that we continue to work with partners on many fronts and in different locations, as we have for years, to gather all the quantified knowledge that we can about issues impacting elk and elk habitat,” added Henning.

Survey: Montanans Support State Funding for Conservation, Outdoor Recreation

The Montana Outdoor Heritage Project (MOHP) released a report last week indicating that 83 percent of the people who responded to MOHP surveys support additional public funding in support of conservation and outdoor recreation.

 The survey was not conducted as a random poll survey. Surveys were available online at the MOHP website and distributed at over 50 community meetings and individual discussions and meetings. A 12-page report based on the survey responses is available on the MOHP website.