Hattie Farrell and Dan and Sari Kerslake found a way to make a successful succession plan happen on important ag ground in the Bitterroot Valley. It took patience, creativity, determination, a cooperative local land trust and a helpful local banker, to help put it all together. But it is definitely a Bitterroot Valley success story, and that story is featured on the Bitter Root Land Trust website.
Prickly Pear Land Trust is a key project partner in the East Helena Greenway project, The project concept includes public trails, cleaner water, community conservation and much more. From the PPLT website: In 2010, Prickly Pear Land Trust began working with the community of East Helena and federal, state, and local authorities to plan this recreational trail system and maximize its benefits and connections for East Helena. With the transfer of 323 acres to PPLT in late 2020, this long-term project began in earnest, and the proposed trail will create pedestrian and bike-safe connections between schools, town and Prickly Pear Creek, before heading upstream and connecting to Montana City’s community trails.
The Visscher family purchased their 320 Kelly Canyon acres from the original homesteaders back in 1954. They arrived with four young children, who, with their parents, helped to build one of the two houses that still stands on the property. They pulled the weathered wood from an old barn and used it as siding on the new house – an example of the conservation ethic that the family still lives by today. Back then, they couldn’t see another building from theirs; today, houses dot the landscape, but their easement helps maintain the open beauty of Kelly Canyon and protect the abundant and varied wildlife that lives on and passes through their land. The Visscher property is part of an important wildlife connectivity corridor between the north Gallatin Mountains and the southern Bridgers, and provides habitat for elk, deer, moose, black bear, beaver, coyote, red fox, badger, and countless species of birds.
Flathead Land Trust’s Flathead River Conservation Project protects open space in the heart of the Flathead Valley and water quality of the Flathead River and Flathead Lake. The Flathead River and Flathead Lake are rare gems unmatched anywhere else in the western United States and this important conservation helps keep them that way.
It also adds protection to a critical puzzle piece that is adjacent to 725 acres and near 2,350 acres of land that is already conserved, securing a much larger connected piece of landscape along the lower Flathead River.
A plethora of wildlife use the project property and threatened bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout, a species of special concern, use waters adjacent to the project property. Thousands of waterfowl use not only the river and wetlands on the project property, but also its farmland to feed and refuel on their migration. The conservation easement will keep rich soils identified as “prime farmland” or “farmland of statewide importance” by the Natural Resource Conservation Service in agriculture. The family has been farming and stewarding this wildlife-rich land for almost 100 years.
A unique U.S. Forest Service fund; a state fish and wildlife trust; community conservation and educational groups; and, of course, generous individual donors. From the federal to the local, the effort to create Alvord Lake Community Forest out of a proposed lakeshore subdivision is the largest and most collaborative forest management project in Vital Ground’s history.
The Trust for Public Land worked out a deal with Stimson Lumber Company, the landowner, to permanently protect 28,000 acres near Troy and Lake Creek with a working forest conservation easement, which will allow for sustainable timber production while protecting water quality, habitat, recreation and other qualities essential to preserving the character of this unique landscape.