When Bob Emery first started coming to Bozeman on fishing adventures in the mid-1980s, the Gallatin Valley was a different place. The big box stores hadn’t discovered the area and 19th Avenue was a farm road more likely to see tractor traffic than automobiles.
Fast forward 30 years and the Gallatin Valley has grown. So too has the Emerys’ ties to the valley. Bob made the trip every year, following his passion for fly fishing to many of Montana’s fabled trout streams and rivers, but then one year, things changed a bit. A friend called and said he knew of a great property for sale out by Manhattan; a place that had a few miles of trout stream right on the property. Up until that point, Bob hadn’t even been looking. “We weren’t even in the market for a property, but after we went out there and looked, we decided this ranch was it,” remembered Emery. “We never even looked at another farm or ranch.”
When the Emerys made the purchase of a farm along Camp and Baker Creeks, they also serendipitously obtained wonderful neighbors, Marc and Sherrie Pierce, who eventually would become very close friends and partners not only in real estate, but in a passion for conservation. “We met the Pierces and quickly became the best of friends. In fact, Marc is unquestionably one of my closest friends.” The Pierces and the Emerys have since joined forces to forever protect a couple thousand acres on the floor of the Gallatin Valley, working hand-in-glove with The Montana Land Reliance.
“It all started when I bought the place and started to look at improving the streams and thinking about how they could not only be restored but also how agriculture could coexist successfully side-by-side with wildlife and conservation,” said Emery.
Working together and with other neighbors, today the Emerys’ Hammer Ranch is a fabulous haven for waterfowl of all species, as well as wonderful habitat for coldwater fish species. And just across the fence, the Pierces are doing the same thing, working with agriculture and wildlife and creating outstanding open space in a fast-growing valley.
“After we’d done some restoration work on the ranch, we started to look for the ideal partner for a conservation easement to keep the land as it is and a working farm,” said Emery. “The Land Reliance was that partner.”