Land Trust News

Kelly Kountz Photo / Courtesy of Gallatin Valley Land Trust

NRCS Sage Grouse Conservation Story Map Shows Partnerships and Success

The NRCS has produced comprehensive maps and information illustrating the abundant sage grouse conservation easement projects throughout the Montana. The information is presented in visually creative ways and shows how the NRCS and its partners – which include land trusts, the Montana sage grouse program and others – are working to conserve sage grouse populations and habitat.

Landowner, NRCS, Land Trust Partner in Stillwater County

The Key O Ranch, operated by the Keogh family, has been working with NRCS for decades to improve their rangeland health through grazing management to produce healthy cattle, clean water, and wildlife habitat. The Keoghs, Montana NRCS, and The Montana Land Reliance also teamed up in 2019 to place a conservation easement on the property, using the 2018 Farm Bill’s Agricultural Land Easement program.

Great Outdoors is Great for Montana’s Economy

Montana and Montanans are defined in part by the tremendous outdoor recreation opportunities that surround us. But those recreation opportunities bring with them significant economic benefits. Montana ranks second in the country (only Hawaii is higher) for how much outdoor recreation contributes to its gross domestic product — 5.1% in 2017. It is not some left-leaning think tank that reports those figures. The data is

from the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis. The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports that”Outdoor recreation continues to get bigger. The Bureau of Economic Analysis report found that between 2012 and 2017, Montana’s GDP grew by 6%. During the same period, the contribution from outdoor recreation to the state’s GDP grew by 24%.”

Amy Croover New Leader for Montana TNC

Amy Croover is the new State Director for the Nature Conservancy in Montana, and the Montana Association of Land Trusts welcomes Amy to the Montana land trust community.

Croover previously worked at Business Oregon, the state’s economic development department. She also worked for U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Montana, for seven years, handling Native American affairs, resource conservation and the nexus of Montana’s native people and the state’s lands and waters.

She grew up on Washington’s Kitsap Peninsula and attended Salish Kootenai College, majoring in Environmental Science and Restoration Ecology.

New Leadership at Five Valleys Land Trust

Five Valleys Land Trust, based in Missoula, has named Jennifer Zaso to be its next Executive Director. Zaso brings a strong background in both corporate and nonprofit strategic planning, organizational development, and fundraising to the position, along with extensive knowledge of land conservation work. The entire Montana Association of Land Trusts welcomes Jenny to the Montana land trust community.

Sign-On Letter Encourages Congressional Support for LWCF

The Land and Water Conservation Fund is a top priority for many members of the Montana land trust community and is a major focus of MALT’s policy advocacy. The National LWCF Coalition is circulating a sign-on letter in support of full dedicated LWCF funding, and MALT is circulating the letter to the membership with encouragement for MALT members to sign on to the letter.

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Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Works to Expand Wildlife Area

The Mount Haggin Wildlife Management Area has expanded by 160 acres, thanks to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Edna Schmeller, and the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks. The property is about 10 miles south of Anaconda at the base of the Anaconda-Pintlar Mountains. Previously surrounded on two sides by the 56,000-acre Mount Haggin Wildlife Management Area (WMA), it is now part of the WMA (Montana’s largest) itself. “This is a critical stretch of landscape. It is a migration corridor for elk and mule deer because it connects winter range on the west side of the Continental Divide with calving and fawning grounds as well as summer range on the east side of the Divide,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “Plus it features vital riparian habitat that supports a wide range of other fish, wildlife and plant species.”

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‘Honoring the Idea’ of Open Land in Gallatin Gateway

A conservation easement in Gallatin Gateway has been donated to Gallatin Valley Land Trust that seeks to honor a person – Sydney Kurland – and his idea (and ideal) of open land.
The Bozeman Daily Chronicle article captures the commitment of Kurland (a former teacher at Montana State University) and Emily Gadd, current owner of the property, to conserve the 30 acres that sits “at end of a dirt road in Gallatin Gateway.”
From the article:
I feel like I’m honoring his idea of what he wanted this place to be,” Gadd said. “He always wanted to do an easement. He wouldn’t have wanted to see this place developed like all the other places around here.”
…“The beauty of this place is it’s at the end of a dirt road, it’s really private and it’s right on the river,” she said. “We need to protect these places, and I wish more people would think about conservation because God knows this place is getting chopped up.”…“Gallatin County is rapidly growing and experiencing urban sprawl, so having people like Emily (Gadd) place conservation easements on their land protects agricultural areas, preserves wildlife and maintains important migration corridors,” said Chad Klinkenborg of Gallatin Valley Land Trust. “It is also an opportunity for landowners to preserve what they love about their property forever.”

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Land Trust Alliance President Andrew Bowman Tours Story Mill Community Park

Land Trust Alliance President Andrew Bowman shared some Alliance key policy and funding thoughts on Oct. 4 with a group of Montana Association of Land Trusts members during a meeting at Gallatin Valley Land Trust in Bozeman. In addition to a brief tour of Story Mill Community Park, Andrew visited with Montana land trust officials on a wide range of issues including climate change/carbon sequestration and related funding opportunities; Farm Bill implementation and the Alliance’s collaboration with the NRCS, which will include new Alliance staffing positions; the importance of the Alliance regional offices and leadership training for land trust personnel; and syndication of conservation easement tax benefits. Andrew said passage of legislation to stop syndication of conservation easement tax benefits is a top Alliance legislative priority.