Land Trust News

Kelly Kountz Photo / Courtesy of Gallatin Valley Land Trust

MTFWP Commission
 Approves Two 
Land Trust Projects

     The Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission approved two proposed projects – one from The Vital Ground Foundation and one from Bitter Root Land Trust – at the commission’s May 28 meeting.

     From the Missoula Current article: Fans of the West Fork of the Bitterroot are cheering the approval of the purchase of 97 acres surrounding the 1.5-acre W.W. White fishing access site along the West Fork Road, the only public fishing access on the West Fork. The W.W. White Memorial FAS proposal will need Montana Land Board approval because it is a fee title acquisition by FWP. BRLT is leading the project, a project that has been 15 years in the making.

     Vital Ground’s project is more recent: The commission approved a 50-acre easement held by FWP on land owned by Vital Ground. The Wild River project near the Kootenai River in northwest Montana represents a key wildlife connectivity area for grizzly bears and other species. Kyle Barber presented the BRLT project to the commission and Mitch Doherty presented Vital Ground’s. 

Photo: Wild River

Gallatin Valley Land Trust Debuts 2020 National Trails Day Bingo Card

Gallatin Valley Land Trust, based in Bozeman, is launching its Summer Trails Challenge on June 6, which is also National Trails Day. The Summer Trails Challenge runs through June 26, and participants are encouraged to log miles (hiking, walking, biking and running) onto GVLT’s website to help reach GVLT’s goal of 50,000 miles. Each mile equals a $1 donation to GVLT from the Community Match Pool. Also check out the National Trails Day Bingo Card. A special competition within the Challenge is set for June 12-14, with a contest between GVLT and Prickly Pear Land Trust in Helena to see which community can log the most trail miles that weekend. Stay tuned!


US Senate Aiming for Great American Outdoor Vote

     The US Senate is working toward a June vote on the Great American Outdoors Act, a bill that contains a provision for full permanent LWCF funding and funding for national parks maintenance.

      A May 27 event in Missoula near Lolo Creek featured Sen. Steve Daines, The Trust for Public Land, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and other groups and highlighted the value of the LWCF and the GAOA to Montana conservation and outdoor recreation. A Missoula Current article focused on the TPL Lolo Trails Landmark Project and the importance of not only that project but the importance of full LWCF funding in tandem with the GAOA.

     “We have a $12 billion maintenance backlog with crumbling infrastructure across our national parks,” Daines said. “This is the marriage of two really important bills. It takes our public lands and conservation to pull both sides of the aisle together.”

PHOTO: (Left to right) Sen. Daines; Catherine Schmidt, TPL; Clayton Elliott, TU; Joel Webster, TRCP;  Jennifer Doherty and Blake Henning, RMEF.

Prickly Pear Land Trust Invites You to Listen In at Sevenmile Creek

    Prickly Pear Land Trust is well-known for projects like Tenmile Creek Park, its extensive community trails system and spring trail run, but nestled north of the Tenmile Creek is Sevenmile Creek and an impressive stream restoration project led by PPLT.

    A 21-second video at Sevenmile last week shows a healthy streambank and the audio features abundant songbirds in the area. PPLT acquired the 358-acre property in 2016 and the place definitely needed significant work.

     PPLT has partnered with several entities to restore the functions of the stream and floodplain, has reestablished wetlands and ponds, is rebuilding the creek’s riparian area and restoring stream health. 2020 should be the final year for property and stream restoration major work projects. From PPLT’s website: By rebuilding the creek, our largest restoration project to date, native wildlife, vegetation, and fisheries may expand and thrive, while the property relieves flooding downstream and prevents sediments from entering Helena’s water.

Flathead Land Trust Goes Virtual on Tour

     You’re going to want your sound on when you click to the Flathead Virtual Bird and Bike Tour of the Smith Lake Waterfowl Production Area. COVID may have cancelled the 2020 actual bike and bird tour, but for wildlife life in the wetlands goes on. And that life is loud. As the three-minute video plays a chorus of many bird species sings, chirps and calls, accompanied by short descriptions of what you’re hearing. The virtual tour was put together by Constanza von der Pahlen and the Flathead Lakers. Bird sounds are from The Cornell Lab.

     From the video information: The sounds of calling and singing birds is deafening during spring and fall migrations as the waterfowl, shorebirds, swans, and tens of thousands of migratory birds settle among the bulrush, cattail, and reed canary grass to eat, rest, or nest at the Smith Lake.

Schwab Takes the Helm at Five Valleys Land Trust

     Whitney Schwab, Five Valleys Land Trust philanthropy director the past five years, as been named executive director of the organization

     Schwab brings a passion for conservation and over 16 years of experience in nonprofit development and organizational management to her role as executive director. As Five Valleys’ philanthropy director she played a key role in community conservation efforts in the Flint Creek Valley and on Mount Dean Stone.

       Schwab holds an MS in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana, and a BS in Natural Resources Recreation Management from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.

     Having grown up on six acres that backed up to protected open space, she holds the mission of Five Valleys close to her heart. She is pleased to be able to have recreated that childhood connection by living at the base of Mount Jumbo, and having daily access to some of Missoula’s best open space. Whitney spends her time running, biking, skiing, and playing with her son, Lander, and husband, Nate, in Montana’s open spaces near and far.

       “I am honored to carry our work forward in this role, and look forward to working closely with our Board, my fellow staff colleagues, and our many partners and members,” she said. “Five Valleys has a legacy of accomplishing important conservation, and we have a tremendous scope of work ahead. Our momentum is great, and so are our opportunities.” 

RMEF Helps Finalize Mount Haggin Conservation

More recreational access, more conservation, and more wildlife habitat thanks to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, MTFWP,  Fish and Wildlife Commission, and the land board.

The Montana State Board of Land Commissioners on May 18 unanimously approved the state’s purchase of an addition to the Mount Haggin Wildlife Management Area located southwest of Anaconda in Deer Lodge County.

The board approved the $658,000, 244-acre Grassy Mountain addition to the 58,000-acre wildlife management area at the request of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. The purchase was facilitated by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

“It’s another excellent project in that Anaconda area,” said Mark Lambrecht, director of government affairs for the Elk Foundation.