BACK 40: AN OVERVIEW OF CONSERVATION EASEMENTS IN MONTANA

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ARTICLE Big Sky, Mont. (May 30,2017) - Big Sky is a special place. What makes it special to each of us varies, but I would bet that many of you moved here to enjoy the wildlife, clean water and scenic views. Land trusts throughout Montana help preserve these unique regional qualities through their work on voluntary conservation easements, and have been successful in doing so, protecting over 2.5 million acres of open space in Montana. However, with the U.S. losing more than an acre of farmland every minute, and Montana losing 1,500 acres of open space to development each month, this is impo...
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Protected in perpetuity: Conservation easement secures future of Shoco Ranch near Augusta

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ARTICLE Helena, Mont. (March 9, 2017) - An Augusta-area ranch will be kept as open space in perpetuity after finalization of a conservation easement in late February.       The 836-acre Shoco Ranch entered into the easement with Montana Land Reliance after working 17 months to secure both public and private funding. The easement secures the property as a working ranch and free from future subdivision. “From my perspective the Rocky Mountain Front is obviously a beautiful landscape and also extremely high quality habitat for both elk and large ...
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Montana Land Reliance keeps 1 million acres from subdivision

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ARTICLE Helena, Mont. (March 3, 2017) – Rick Berg’s Norwegian great-grandfather settled in the Lennep Valley in the late 1880s. He became a butcher, supplying the area's miners and railroad workers, then later homesteaded and ranched sheep. In the 1950s, the ranch he founded converted to cattle. Today, Rick’s daughter and her husband are the fifth generation to operate the place. They run their Angus cattle on 10,000 acres of private and state land, much as Rick and his wife, Gayle, did in the 1980s and 90s. The only real difference between now and a century ago is the property holds a cons...
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Fairgrounds concept goes through final hearing, open space easement approved

ARTICLE Missoula, Mont. (October 26, 2016) - After three plans, 10 years and three architects, the Missoula County Commissioners approved a fairgrounds concept plan Wednesday. Designed by A&E Architects, the plan removes the horse racing track and adds a large-scale livestock center and expands the ice rinks. “It seems like kind of an anticlimactic moment because it’s been years and years to get here, but it’s just a small moment,” Commission Chair Cola Rowley said, noting she was proud of all the work that was done to come up with the final plan.  The largest building o...
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Critical Open Space Protected in Madison Valley

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ARTICLE Big Sky, Mont. (September 24, 2016) - Jack Reints, a life-long Madison Valley resident, placed his 120-acre ranch under conservation easement this August with the Montana Land Reliance. This conservation easement is a voluntary, legally binding agreement that will protect the property from development in perpetuity. The Reints Ranch is a 120-acre contiguous parcel of agricultural land adjacent to Ennis and Jeffers. Both the Madison River and O’Dell Spring Creek flow through the property, and it’s located within 1 mile of six other protected MLR easement properties. The addition of R...
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Missoula city, county officials look at protecting 545-acre ranch for ag land, wildlife habitat

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ARTICLE Frenchtown, Mont (July 30, 2016) - A trip to the Deschamps Ranch west of Missoula is like time-traveling back to an era when agriculture was the bedrock of the county, as it was when Gaspard Deschamps first settled here from Canada in 1877. Compared to the rest of the Missoula Valley, not much has changed here since that time. It’s an oasis of rural greenery in a part of the county rapidly becoming urban asphalt. Gaspard’s great-grandson Charlie still works the land and grows 1,000 tons of hay every year. A mysterious geological feature on the ranch brings clean water ...
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State considers easement funding for sage grouse lands

ARTICLE Great Falls, Mont. (July 12, 2016) - An oversight panel in charge of overseeing implementation of the state’s sage grouse habitat conservation plan is soliciting public comment on contributing $2.9 million in state funds toward the purchase of four conservation easements on almost 35,000 acres of private land in northeastern Montana. (more…)
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Couple preserves piece of local ag heritage

ARTICLE Kalispell, Mont. (June 21, 2016) - Out past the hummingbirds and house finches lingering near the feeders on the porch, Clifford and Shirley Brenneman look east through their kitchen window at emerald green fields of grain rolling toward the wall of mountains rising from the valley floor. New hotels, subdivisions and chain restaurants are announced with increasing frequency in Flathead County, home to Montana’s second fastest-growing population and a booming recreation industry built on its surrounding rivers, lakes and thickly forested mountains. (more…)
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Unique river easement OK’d by Fish and Wildlife Commission

ARTICLE Billings, Mont. (February 12, 2016) - The Fish and Wildlife Commission on Thursday unanimously approved a first-of-its-kind channel migration easement allowing the Yellowstone River to roam, though concerns of how it may affect a downstream user almost stalled the proposal. (more…)
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