Land Trust News

Kelly Kountz Photo / Courtesy of Gallatin Valley Land Trust

TPL’s “Montana Great Outdoors” Project Ranks #1 in Forest Legacy Program

     The Trust for Public Land has made conservation of northwest Montana forestlands an organizational priority, and TPL’s ongoing success within that priority is reflected by a  number one ranking in the FY22 Forest Legacy Program.

     From a TPL eNewsletter: The U.S. Forest Service Fiscal Year 22 Forest Legacy Program (FLP) recently ranked the Montana Great Outdoors Project in Northwest Montana #1 in the country. The ranking grants the project $20 million by the FLP, and we’re raising an additional $10 million from the Montana state government and private sources to complete the $30 million deal to preserve the land. This project will protect 115,000 acres of critical wildlife habitat, prime fisheries, and highly productive timberland. 

     Congressional project lists generated within the FY22 Land and Water Conservation Fund and Forest Legacy program indicate several other Montana conservation projects have the potential to be funded through FY22 program allocations, but some of that funding is currently uncertain. MALT will provide additional FY22 project information when appropriate.

Photo: Christopher Boyer, Kestrel Aerial

King Family Receives Stockgrowers Conservation Award

Congratulations to Joe C. King & Sons Ranch as recipients of the Montana Stockgrowers Association 2021 Montana Environmental Stewardship Award. The ranch is owned and operated by Chris & Gari King, their son, Jay King, and their daughter and son-in-law, Kylie and Mitch Thompson. The four-minute video available here demonstrates the commitment to stewardship and resource conservation by the King family. Congratulations to the Stockgrowers and the King Ranch.

New Info Available at the ACEP-ALE Action Center

     The Land Trust Alliance announced on June 9 that new information is available on the Alliance’s ACEP-ALE Action Center, located on the Alliance website. 

     The ACEP-ALE Action Center provides a broad array of information the ALE Program that land trusts and even landowners would find helpful as they navigate within the NRCS program. The website provides an overview and basic information about the program, and also includes information about “getting started” in ALE, some short videos, and detailed information about ALE Program applications and more. One of the videos, titled Land Trust Alliance + NRCS, showcases several Montanans including land trust personnel and landowners, and Montana NRCS ALE projects. 

Just What the Doctor Ordered: NatureRx

From a guest column by Gallatin Valley Land Trust executive director Chet Work: Imagine the deep-voiced, fast-talking promotional commercial during your favorite television show. “NatureRx is commonly used to help treat depression, anxiety, obesity, heart disease, diabetes, sleeplessness, and high blood pressure. NatureRx prescriptions are free and can be administered through a wide variety of activities including regular walks, bike rides, and trail runs. Beware, common side effects include smiles, joy, fresh air, feelings of gratitude, scenic mountains views, wildlife sightings, community connection and in rare occasions, dirty shoes.”

The column provides a wealth of information about the personal and community benefits of trails and outdoor recreation.


New Report: How Conservation and Recreation Groups Can Support Rural Communities

A new report featuring western communities including Lincoln, MT, shows the value of recreation and conservation to rural community health and economic diversity and strength. The report was produced by the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and the Heart of the Rockies Initiative, and several land trusts and land trust partners are referenced within the report.

“The Heart of the Rockies Rural Development Program was developed on the premise that the success and sustainability of conservation in the Rocky Mountain West is inextricably linked to rural community vitality and economic well-being,” said Gary Burnett, Executive Director of the Heart of the Rockies Initiative. “In highlighting these four case studies, this report illustrates what can be accomplished when stakeholders recognize the alignment between these interconnected priorities.”

Five Valleys Land Trust Launches Photo Contest

As part of their upcoming (2022) 50th anniversary, Five Valleys Land Trust is holding a photo contest. From the Five Valleys website: Are you a photographer with a love of western Montana’s open lands? We want you! The winning photos will be showcased in a gallery open house event in late September, for National Public Lands Day. The 12 winning shots will also be featured in a Five Valleys 50th anniversary commemorative calendar. Full information is available on the Five Valleys website. 

Gallatin Valley Land Trust Key Partner in Gallatin County Triangle Trails Plan

THE TRIANGLE TRAILS DRAFT PLAN, a major community trails project in Gallatin County that would essentially connect Bozeman, Four Corners and Belgrade by trail, is out for public comment.The project partners are Gallatin Valley Land Trust, City of Bozeman and the City of Belgrade, and the trails plan calls for safe and accessible routes for a variety of trail users. The project involves several types of trails, including small connector trails for access to schools.

MALT Members Are Rolling Into Summer

     COVID isn’t over, but Montanans and Montana land trusts are increasingly over COVID. 

     Montana land trusts continue to exercise caution and follow state and local pandemic guidelines, but with Montana COVID cases dropping more and more MALT members are expanding outdoor — and even indoor — events as they adjust to new event opportunities and more acceptance for group gatherings.

     Prickly Pear Land Trust announced earlier this week that — as its Don’t Fence Me In Trail Run and Challenge runs through June 1 — the PPLT Harvest Moon Banquet and Auction will take place live and in-person at the Kleffner Ranch on Sept. 16. More details will be announced soon, but Harvest Moon will offer PPLT supporters and community members to gather in person, with an online alternative, to participate in the event. 

     Everywhere from Sandpoint to Bozeman, and places in between, land trusts are slowly opening up more opportunities for in-person connections. In addition to holding a recent in-person staff retreat, Gallatin Valley Land Trust and Bozeman Health are leading a remarkable series of  Discovery Walks (with participation limited and RSVPs encouraged, and social distancing in place) now through the end of June. From the GVLT website: “This year, we’re working with Montana Outdoor Science School, Sacajawea Audubon Society, and more to bring fun, educational, outdoor activities the whole family can enjoy. New to Bozeman? Interested in discovering new  trails? Need a spring activity for the kids? Curious about water, geography, yoga, plants, trail running, or birds? We have a Discovery Walk for you!”

     Kaniksu Land Trust has a multitude of upcoming in-person events scheduled, including Birds & Burritos on June 5, Folk School Jamboree on June 12, Let’s Go Birding on June 19 and Pairings in The Pines on July 8. In addition, the Kaniksu Folk School has a full schedule of 2021 events and activities set for community members. 

     Flathead Land Trust recently held small-group in-person natural resource tours, and its August 19 summer fundraising event, The Land Affair, will be held largely outdoors and in person. 

     Five Valleys Land Trust will hold its first Hands on the Land volunteering event on Saturday, June 5, to celebrate National Trails Day. The event starts at 2:00 PM and will be held at the Rock Creek Confluence   property, and volunteers will help “spruce up” the universal access trail. 

     More and more Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation chapter banquets are being held in-person and Bitter Root Land Trust is partnering with Art Focus to hold “Plein Aire Under the Big Sky” to bring conservation and art together on August 20-22. Artists will participate in a paint-out at Severson’s Flying E Ranch, located east of Stevensville in the Burnt Fork. This historic cattle ranch was conserved in 2011 by Dan and Debbie Severson in partnership with the Bitter Root Land Trust. Scenic views of the Bitterroot Mountains can be seen from the hayfields that both cattle and wildlife call home.     

Ask an Expert: Ask Lisa McCauley

   The Sage Grouse Initiative earlier this week re-released a 2017 interview with Lisa McCauley, then the NRCS Conservation Easement Specialist in Montana and now an Easement Program Specialist for the NRCS in Washington, DC, and her information is still spot-on.

     The interview, titled “How Do Conservation Easements Work?” is somewhat focused on sage grouse, but Lisa’s responses and perspectives still tell a compelling story about the value of land conservation for farm and ranch families, agricultural production, local economies, wildlife habitat and more. 

Photo Caption: With help from NRCS conservation easement programs, The Nature Conservancy preserved this working ranch and sage-grass habitat on 16,000 acres in northeastern Montana