The Land and Water Conservation Fund will expire Sept. 30 without program reauthorization, but a major positive step was taken on the LWCF in House Natural Resources Committee on Sept. 13. The committee passed a compromise bill permanently reauthorizing theLWCF out of committee by voice vote. Montana Congressman Greg Gianforte voted for the bill and voted against all five amendments to weaken the compromise package. He also made a strong statement in support of the LWCF program’s value to Montana. The land trust community expresses a sincere THANK YOU to Congressman Gianforte for his support, encourages him to cosponsor HR 6759 (LWCF dedicated funding) and to continue to explore ways to fully fund and permanently reauthorize the LWCF.
Mark Machler of Lewistown and Jim and Laurel Hagenbarth of the Big Hole area are being saluted by Governor Bullock and others during a Montana Neighbor Award ceremony in the Governor’s Reception Room at 11:00 AM on Monday, Sept. 17. The Montana Neighbor Award recognizes Montana landowners for their stewardship, community engagement and neighborly access, and both the Montana Association of Land Trusts and The Nature Conservancy in Montana are part of the Montana Neighbor Award committee. Brian Kahn leads the effort. Mark Machler farms near Lewistown and near Roy, and has been instrumental in the restoration and conservation of Big Spring Creek. He is also a recognized community leader through his cooperative work with the NRCS, the local conservation district, and others. Jim and Laurel Hagenbarth are well known and well respected landowners and agriculture industry leaders in southwest Montana who have been active in the Big Hole Watershed Committee’s water management and grayling conservation efforts, and much more.
Flathead Land Trust and its partners are celebrating an Oct. 6 event that is officially called the Grand Opening of West Valley Bird Viewing Area. Unofficially, it’s called the coolest northwest Montana sandhill crane habitat conservation project ever. FLT, together with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, and Flathead Audubon, have scheduled the Oct. 6 ribbon cutting ceremony starting at 5:00 PM to give event participants a possible opportunity to watch the sandhills and other bird species land in and near the wetlands on their southern migratory routes (the birds are migrating, not the people). The West Valley project is a remarkable conservation achievement for FLT, project partners, project funders, and the Flathead Valley. The $1.4 million raised to fund the project came from a variety of sources, including local funders and the NRCS ALE Program. The 400 conserved acres includes a 45-acre wetland that is vital for area bird population density and diversity, and involves the only known staging area for sandhill crane migration in the Flathead Valley. The project also includes a public access and public education component. The official event invitation is attached to the MALT email, and because of limited space interested folks are encouraged to RSVP to FLT project leader Laura Katzman.
The Montana Land Reliance and Gulch Distillers in Helena are launching their 2018 batch of Perpetuity Gin during a community night at Gulch Distillers starting at 4:00 PM on Sep. 26. Stop by and join the MLR crew and help celebrate Montana private land conservation with some excellent gin.
Prickly Pear Land Trust is sponsoring a “laid-back walk“ at the Tenmile Creek Park on Thursday, Sept. 11, starting at 5:30 PM. Contact PPLT at 442-0490 for more info. From a PPLT Facebook Post: Interested in the park, PPLT, or the local environment? Wanna just get outside for a moment with some company? Join Prickly Pear Land Trust for a laid-back walk in the park, September 11th, at 5:30. We’ll start at Tenmile Creek Park’s parking lot.
The Nature Conservancy in Montana and the US Fish & Wildlife Service worked to finalize a Greater Sage-Grouse and Declining Songbirds Programatic Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAA) in early 2018 and TNC announced last week it enrolled its first landowner within this CCAA program. The agreement with the landowner covers 11,000 acres of mostly sagebrush habitat in north central Montana and the property sits in sage grouse core habitat and the habitat of four key grasslands songbirds.
Senator Jon Tester and former Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell helped rally support for the Land and Water Conservation Fund during an August 31 event in the Paradise Valley. “It’s (the LWCF) got to be reauthorized, and it’s got to be funded,” Tester said.
Five Valleys Land Trust will spend Saturday, Sept. 22, with project partners on Mount Dean Stone working with volunteers on trail building projects. The event starts at 9:00 AM and in part because of shuttling to the work site pre-registration is required. National Public Lands Day is also held Sept. 22.
Trails are a major asset for the Montana State Parks system. Trails are also major assets for neighborhoods and communities, and several Montana land trusts are actively engaged in trails programs.
The Madison Conservation District will show a series of short films – including MALT’s “On the Shoulders of Giants: The Story of Montana Private Land Conservation” – on August 31 as part of the Montana Conservation Film Fest during the Ennis Fly Fishing and Outdoor Festival. The films will be shown at the Madison Theatre in Ennis starting at 2:30 PM.