Land trusts focus on cooperative agreements with landowners and the creation of conservation easements, but many land trusts do much more than that.
Over time, nonprofit land trusts have significantly expanded their service to Montana and individual communities in several ways. Land trusts are leading efforts with local hiking and biking clubs to build and maintain extensive trails systems in Bozeman, Helena and Missoula. In fact, trails in those three communities are emerging as destination trails, bringing in hikers, runners and bikers and providing not only dynamic outdoor recreation opportunities but business growth and economic opportunities as well.
Gallatin Valley Land Trust in Bozeman has led cooperative efforts to produce over 80 miles of local trails. Prickly Pear Land Trust in Helena helps manage over 70 miles of trails that attracts close to 70,000 users each year. Five Valleys Land Trust in Missoula is helping lead efforts that are steadily expanding existing and building new trails in the area. Five Valleys recently opened the Barmeyer Trail and is developing additional recreation options on Mount Dean Stone. Five Valleys is also ensuring all-accessible trails in places like its Confluence Property at Rock Creek.
Five Valleys also collaborated with Lewis and Clark County in the effort to create the Lincoln Community River Park, a small community park along the Blackfoot River in Lincoln.
Flathead Land Trust is helping expand an already-impressive community trails system in the Flathead Valley, and also led an effort to fund and build a new community fishing pond in Columbia Falls.
Bitter Root Land Trust is continuing work on two community parks (and trails) along the Bitterroot River. Bitter Root Land Trust has received tremendous local support for these community parks—Skalkaho Bend Park and Steve Powell Park—from local and county leaders, community members, civic leaders and area residents.
Kaniksu Land Trust, a MALT-member organization based in Sandpoint, ID, that works in Montana’s Sanders County, has pioneered the Pine Street Woods Community Forest, a 180-acre accessible forest that offers outdoor education and recreation to the entire Sandpoint community. In addition, in Montana, Kaniksu Land Trust has partnered to help create the Cabinet View Nature Area, a 75-acre parcel with recreational access near the Montana-Idaho border that includes a picnic shelter and trails for family usage.
Prickly Pear Land Trust’s leadership and community cooperation produced Tenmile Creek Park, a fully accessible community park in Helena near Spring Meadow Resources, VA Medical Center at Fort Harrison and Spring Meadow Lake State Park. Prickly Pear is also leading the Sevenmile Creek Restoration project, a collaborative effort on a 358-acre parcel near Helena that will restore wetlands, riparian habitat and floodplain functions to diminish downstream sedimentation and flooding.
For more information about land trust community conservation projects and efforts please don’t hesitate to contact individual land trusts or the Montana Association of Land Trusts.