Land Trust News

Kelly Kountz Photo / Courtesy of Gallatin Valley Land Trust

Montana Land Reliance Conserves Eastern Montana Grasslands

Some of the most prolific, intact grasslands in Montana can be found along Highway 200 between Jordan and Circle. This prairie landscape is home to a rich tradition of ranching, as well as abundant wildlife, including the greater sage grouse, pronghorn, Baird’s sparrow, Sprague’s pipit, McCown’s longspur, and lark bunting to name a few.
MLR is proud to have partnered with Soda Creek Ranch to protect 13,000 acres of exceptional sagebrush and grassland habitat in McCone County. The easement ensures that this critical area of habitat in eastern Montana will remain available for ranching and wildlife habitat forever. Special thanks to the work of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Agricultural Land Easement (ALE) program in helping to conserve agricultural land across Montana.

Gallatin Valley Land Trust Rallies to Protect Peets Hill

      The Bozeman Daily Chronicle stated it clearly and succinctlyIt’s official: 12 acres of Bozeman’s iconic Peets Hill will be preserved as a city park.

      The Peets Hill project demonstrated the remarkable ability of Gallatin Valley Land Trust to act quickly and decisively to mobilize local support and funding to protect one of Bozeman’s most treasured recreational assets. GVLT and its private and public partners were able to secure $1.23 million to finalize the purchase.

     From the Chronicle article: 

     The 12 acres were listed for sale over the summer. The land trust jumped at the chance to preserve the land and submitted an offer to buy it for $1.23 million, which eventually was chosen after a previous offer fell through.

     Then, GVLT started a public fundraising campaign, billing it as a chance to “protect Peets’ final piece.”

     In a matter of weeks, hundreds of people donated to raise $800,000 to help with the sale. The land trust then turned to the city to ask for $485,000 to cover the rest of the costs and an additional $315,000 to be paid over the next two years to cover the cost of trail and land work planned for the parcel.

     “I think the commission believes it’s a really good investment of public dollars and I think that’s because it’s used by so many people and so many visitors,” Bozeman Mayor Cyndy Andrus said. “It’s such a great project and it’s such a good resource, and I just believe the timing was really good … as we’re growing it’s more difficult to acquire land so this was a very good opportunity for the community.”

     Andrus also praised GVLT for getting the deal done. Chet Work, the organization’s executive director, said it was an “honor” to facilitate the deal.

     From a GVLT Jan. 20 social media post: We are thrilled to report that as of yesterday afternoon, Peets’ Final Piece is officially protected from the threat of development forever. 

     Thanks to an outpouring of support from nearly 700 donors, GVLT and City of Bozeman purchased the 12 acre parcel at the south end of Peets Hill. We never could have protected this important piece of Bozeman’s most cherished park without your support.

Forest Health, Forest Jobs, In the Kootenai Valley

Stimson Lumber Company, The Trust for Public Land, and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks teamed up to conserve over 27,000 acres of private timberlands in northwest Montana near Libby.

“Stimson Lumber Company strongly supports working forestlands which provide quality recreational opportunities, excellent fish and wildlife habitat and a healthy environment,” Andrew Miller, Stimson Lumber Company’s president and CEO, stated. “Working forestlands also promote vibrant, healthy forests which contribute to important rural economies. Stimson appreciates being a part of the collaborative effort with The Trust for Public Land and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks on this important landscape project in northwestern Montana. Present and future generations will appreciate the benefits of this important project.”

Prickly Pear Land Trust Helps Lead East Helena Public Access Project

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.

Gallatin Valley Land Trust, Visscher Family, Show Conservation Commitment

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 Conserves the “Heart of the Flathead Valley”

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.