Land Trust News

Kelly Kountz Photo / Courtesy of Gallatin Valley Land Trust

Prickly Pear Land Trust Plays Social Distancing Bingo

Just in time for shelter in place restrictions…the folks at Prickly Pear Land Trust in Helena have introduced a new game called Social Distancing Bingo. The game features abundant Helena area outdoor activities – following proper social distancing –  along with some fun and positive outdoor recommendations.

MALT Hiring Montana ALE Program Coordinator

The Montana Association of Land Trusts is seeking to fill the currently vacant position of Montana ALE Program Coordinator, a shared position with MALT and the NRCS based in Bozeman. Interested individuals and applicants should contact MALT executive director Glenn Marx as explained in the position announcement. The application deadline is April 24.


Beavers Creatively Prepare For, and Survive, Winter

Tatum McConnell, communications intern for The Vital Ground Foundation, writes in her Winter Wildlife Series that beaver lodges and beaver winter activity and survival are based on hard work and wise planning.

From the Vital Ground website: Much like grizzly bears, beavers make a cozy retreat for the winter months. But unlike bears, beavers stay active and awake in their lodges throughout the entire season. Sturdily built of logs, rocks, grass, and mud, beaver lodges can stay standing and in use for many years.

The lodge’s incredible construction (is)  sealed with insulating mud and chinked with small holes left for air to come in and out. Additionally, the lodge is practically impervious to predators like wolves and mountain lions because of the hardened mud and water surrounding all entrances.

The article also sheds light on the biological benefits of beavers, as well as ways beavers keep themselves nourished during winter.

Virus Among Us

by Glenn Marx, MALT Executive Director

     Unless you lived through the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 (and perhaps 50 million people did not survive that flu) you have not experienced anything like the coronavirus. If you did live through the Spanish flu and are reading this…wow, you’re amazing.

     The article to the right chronicles recent local and national reports, and local land trust actions and efforts in response to the COVID-19 threat. And make no mistake, the threat – from both a medical and economic perspective – is terrifying. President Trump and Congress are preparing to spend a few trillion dollars in an attempt to save lives and avoid the possibility of 20% unemployment and a devastating recession. We in America and people across the globe may be battling coronavirus for18 months. While there is only so much we can do to flatten the curve, flattening the now-famous curve is the local and international priority. Because safety is the priority. Our part-time Helena next door neighbor tested positive for the virus. We wish him well, and we thank all medical staff for their service. 

     We are in the midst of an unprecedented (hopefully brief) time, and what happens next – both medically and economically – is uncertain and unpredictable. Within roughly ten days we have gone from (angrily) “They canceled the NCAA Basketball Tournament?” to “School’s closed?” to “Restaurants are closed?” to “A lockdown?” to (fearfully) “What’s next?” Truth is, not even the people who are taking those next steps are confident about what’s going to happen next. We do know it is going to get worse before it gets better.

    We also know it will get better. We will get through this crisis. The Spanish flu killed 675,000 Americans in 1918. That pandemic was quickly followed by the Roaring 20s. We’ll also come roaring back.

Virtual Fencing Leads to Virtual Herding for Central Montana Rancher

Leo Barthelmess is no stranger to innovative ranching ideas. He and his family are long-time participants in the Montana TNC Matador Ranch grassbank, and Leo consistently seeks ways to better manage grass and livestock.

An article in John Deere’s The Furrow sheds light on Leo’s foray into the concept of virtual fencing (vence), which can lead to reduced fencing costs and benefits to the rancher’s bottom line.

From the article: The Barthelmesses picked up 45 days of winter grazing by intensifying their grazing and are excited about what they may achieve with virtual herding.

“We’re just one of the species that make a living here,” Leo says…”the number of uses and applications are only limited by our imagination.” 



Flathead Land Trust Receives Funds for Two Wetlands Projects

     Flathead Land Trust has received two $100,000 grants from the North American Wetland Conservation Act (NAWCA) program that will provide a majority of the funding for two purchased Flathead-area wetland-related conservation easements.

     One of the purchased conservation easements will protect 53.4 acres of key wildlife habitat along Mill Creek near its confluence with the Flathead River. The conservation project will protect 38 acres of wetlands and riparian habitat and .6 miles of Mill Creek. The project property is used by a plethora of wildlife including thousands of waterfowl and other birds and grizzly bears. It is located only about a mile downstream from the FLT’s Flathead River Conservation Project.

     The other purchased conservation easement will protect 34.5 acres and a key wetland in the lower Flathead Valley, plus create a new bird viewing area for the public. The conservation project will protect 12 acres of Reed’s Slough; the other half of Reed’s Slough is already protected by a conservation easement. The project is also adjacent to about 1,300 acres of protected private land around Wiley Slough. The project parcel is used by thousands of migrating waterfowl and over 100 species of birds. The bird viewing area for the public will be created overlooking Reed’s Slough in cooperation with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. (Photos from Flathead Land Trust)

Third Annual Montana Land Trust Stewardship Retreat

by Will Trimbath, Montana Land Reliance

On March 12-13 stewardship staff from around Montana, northern Idaho, and eastern Washington gathered at the Lubrecht Experimental Forest Station to discuss all things stewardship. Stretched over Thursday night and into Friday, land trust stewards discussed an array of topics including GIS, timber harvest, navigating conservation easement property sales, and a myriad of easement interpretation questions. The only thing the event lacked was ample time to discuss all the topics on the agenda. It was a great opportunity for stewardship-centric staff to talk shop, discuss current challenges, and calibrate tough decisions amongst peers. This is the third year in a row for the Montana(ish) Stewardship Retreat, and based on the feedback, this one is likely here to stay.

PHOTO: (Back Row, left to right) Travis Vincent, Prickly Pear Land Trust; Peter Brown, Gallatin Valley Land Trust; Christian Dietrich, Montana Land Reliance; Matt Bell, MLR; Kyle Anderson, Bitter Root Land Trust, Drew Sovilla, The Nature Conservancy; Mark Schiltz, MLR; Steve Kloetzel, TNC; Rose Richardson, Inland Northwest Land Trust; Lucas Cain, GVLT; Ryan Hunter, Flathead Land Trust. (Front Row, left to right) Andrea Silverman, PPLT; Bri Nottingham, MLR; Kali Becher, Vital Ground; Eric Hull, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation; Stephanie Strickland, RMEF; Allison Hurcomb, TNC; Karl Meyer, Palouse Land Trust; Ryan Stutzman, FVLT.  Not pictured: Will Trimbath, MLR.