Land Trust News

Kelly Kountz Photo / Courtesy of Gallatin Valley Land Trust

Chet Work Joins Gallatin Valley Land Trust as New Executive Director

Chet Work is Gallatin Valley Land Trust’s new Executive Director.

The GVLT hiring committee reported that “Chet stood out from the pool of remarkable leaders we evaluated during a national search because of his exceptional knowledge, experience and vision, his track record of success, and his sterling reputation as a strategic leader and respectful collaborator. In short, Chet impressed us as ideally suited to lead our talented staff in writing the next chapter of GVLT’s wonderful story.”

Chet has spent the last 20 years working in conservation, a majority of that time within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. For the last 10 years he has led two of the nation’s most successful land trusts as Executive Director, the Teton Regional Land Trust in Eastern Idaho and most recently the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County, California. Chet has also worked as a land manager for The Nature Conservancy in Idaho and has completed an environmental education residency at the Teton Science Schools in Jackson Hole. Chet holds a Master’s Degree in Environmental Management from Duke University, as well as certificates in Nonprofit Management and Geospatial Analysis. His rich and varied career sets him up well to be an outstanding addition to the GVLT team.

MALT is pleased to welcome Chet, his wife, and three children are excited to the Montana land trust community.

Montana ALE Program Application Deadline April 17

Montana land trusts and others interested in participating in the 2020 Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) learned last week the deadline for applications is April 17. The deadline was announced during the NRCS/MALT March 4 Partnership Call, and followed up with a NRCS news release.

In other MALT NRCS-related action, MALT is finalizing its comments on the draft ACEP/ALE Program rule, and is anticipating upcoming webinars related to ALE Program information.  A March 18 Land Trust Alliance webinar titled “Updates and Improvements to the NRCS ALE Program: What You Need to Know” starts at 12:30 PM MT time. Webinar instructors are Jerome Faulkner and the indomitable Lisa McCauley.

The Fifth Generation

by Glenn Marx, MALT Executive Director

     The Montana Water Summit offered several impressive presentations and many interesting topics, and from a land conservation perspective perhaps the most impressive presentation was from Chase Hibbard.

Chase Hibbard

  Chase (left) and the Hibbard/Baucus/Sieben families are legendary within Montana agricultural lore, and Chase touched on the colorful history of his family’s various movements and pursuits as they moved throughout a pretty large chunk of Montana.

     Chase educated the crowd of over 300 people about the “myth of the western romantic era” in the 1800s, the evolution of western and Montana land management, land designations, and livestock grazing practices. Much of that evolution was – as he pointed out – neither mythic nor romantic. Some of it was brutal. 

     But the main point of Chase’s talk is what his family, and agriculture in general, has learned, and is learning, over the years. He said he and his family debated the idea of a conservation easement on the property for nearly a decade before agreeing in 2008 to a 40,000-acre conservation easement held by The Montana Land Reliance. Chase spoke factually, candidly, and tenderly about his ranch and his family, and said what sealed the deal on the conservation easement was “the fifth generation (on the ranch) unanimously supported” the easement.

     The fifth generation on the ranch is just as devoted to stewardship, conservation, sustainability – and making a living – as the previous generations. In our current meme culture, I can picture a meme of Cooper Hibbard (Chase’s nephew) in this video with a caption reading, “I wish my husband looked at me the way Cooper Hibbard looks at a patch of grass.”

    All of us are indebted to people like Chase and the Hibbard/Baucus/Sieben families…for their legacies and their vision.

Great Opportunity for LWCF Permanent Full Funding

Full and permanent Land and Water Conservation Fund  funding is amazingly and impressively within sight. This is a big deal for Montana, and a great opportunity for America. Bipartisan support for America’s premier conservation program can produce historic accomplishments. One of those accomplishments is improved forest management. Thank you, Senators Steve Daines and Jon Tester. Let’s get the LWCF/National Parks bill quickly on the path toward passage. Tommy Martino/Missoulian Photo


President Trump: I Will Sign LWCF Full Permanent Funding Bill

Full text of a March 3 tweet from President Trump:

“I am calling on Congress to send me a Bill that fully and permanently funds the LWCF and restores our National Parks. When I sign it into law, it will be HISTORIC for our beautiful public lands. ALL thanks to @SenCoryGardner and  @SteveDaines, two GREAT Conservative Leaders!”

This is big news, and great news for the LWCF, Montana conservation, Montana’s economy, and outdoor recreation. Read more about the March 3 LWCF Rally in Bozeman.

Blackfoot Conservation Strategies


Seth Wilson, executive director of the Blackfoot Challenge, and Jenny Zaso, executive director of Five Valleys Land Trust, were two of the participants at Blackfoot Conservation Strategies Committee Meeting in Helmville on Feb. 27. Both have been in their respective positions for about six months. The meeting, attended by a wide range of local landowners, local government officials, state and federal agencies and conservation organizations, focused on Blackfoot Valley forest management, weed control, controlled burns, and conservation measures. A Lincoln Valley Public Lands Proposal was also presented. MALT Photo

Universal Trails Workshop Registration Nearly Full

The Universal Trails and Outdoors for Everyone Workshop is – as expected – attracting significant attention and interest, and MALT member land trusts that have not yet signed up for the workshop are encouraged to do so immediately. The July 8-10 workshop, led by Five Valleys Land Trust and MALT, with support from the Land Trust Alliance, takes place in Missoula and opens with a July 8 evening panel presentation that is open to the public. The panel topic is “Voices from the Community: Why Access, Equity, and Inclusion Matter.” Day 2 of the workshop offers technical advice about universal access trails planning, design and maintenance. It is limited to 30 people, and is very close to full. Land trusts should contact Ryan Stutzman at Five Valleys immediately to sign up. Day 3 features an outdoor trail building session.

Flathead Land Trust Plans May 16 Bike & Bird Tour

Flathead Land Trust is making plans for its Bike and Bird Smith Lake and Baer Project Celebration, set for May 16.

FLT helped to recently add 257 acres to the USFWS Smith Lake Waterfowl Production Area. The “Bike and Bird” portion of the celebration involves “incredible birding (and biking) around this extensive wetland area near Kila.”

Interested participants should plan to bring their own bike and binoculars, and should contact Laura Katzman at FLT (406-752-8293).

Alliance Ask an Expert Will Focus on Youth

The Land Trust Alliance Western Program will turn its attention to “Elevating Youth Voices” during a March 17 session, starting at noon Montana time.

 Travis Custer, the executive director of the Montezuma Land Conservancy in southwest Colorado, will lead a discussion about ways to engage, involve and attract the next generation to continue critical conservation work. Volunteer, internship and AmeriCorps programs offer the opportunity to create meaningful experiences for participants and your land trust. Topic areas will include youth programming, youth leadership skills, removing barriers for youth to engage and funding community-based work.

The deadline for land trust staff to register is March 13. Contact Catherine Waterson to register, and contact Amanda Hill with questions for the presenter.