As the president of The Montana Land Reliance (MLR), it’s always gratifying to hear good things about your organization and staff. Great employees make for an outstanding organization and as MLR’s reputation has grown because of great work done by staff, so has our ability to help Montana ranchers and farmers and other landowners keep their land open and undeveloped.
This past year, MLR managing director, Rock Ringling, was honored with the Advocacy Ambassador Award from the Land Trust Alliance. Rock has worked for MLR since 1990 and has helped raise the organization’s profile and image not only across the state, but nationally. One of the many ways that Rock has put MLR on the national map of land trust organizations has been to work very closely with decision-makers in Washington, D.C. By developing those relationships in Congress, Rock has been instrumental in ensuring that private land conservation and related tax incentives have had supporters inside the Beltway.
Montana ranchers and farmers have worked successfully with MLR on saving Montana’s open spaces through meetings with members of Congress. They were able to talk about the power and satisfaction of leaving land undeveloped for future generations. This kind of moving testimony has helped keep enhanced tax incentives for landowners who make donations of conservation easements in the spotlight on the national stage. While much of this has been Rock’s doing, the efforts of the entire staff and Board are making this happen.
When landowners start to think about protecting their land for future generations, they often listen to their neighbors. In 2014, this “word-of-mouth” advertising continued to bring concerned landowners to MLR to protect big pieces of Montana. Gaining a reputation by doing things right, making a long process easy, and working as partners to protect the land has been the hallmark of MLR’s staff from the very beginning.