Year-end land deals help wildlife

ARTICLE - December 25, 2018 (Condon, Mont,) A pair of land deals in western Montana will make life better for wildlife and the people interested in wild lands. The last bit of former industrial timber land in the Swan Valley acquired through the Montana Legacy Project was transferred to Swan Valley Connections through a conservation easement involving The Nature Conservancy and the Montana Land Reliance. And Missoula-based Vital Ground Foundation teamed with the Yellowstone to Yukon (Y2Y) Foundation on the purchase of a grizzly bear corridor under Interstate 90 east...

Looking at the Future of Agriculture

Eighth annual Flathead Valley Agricultural Forum focuses on efficiencies and the future of livestock   ARTICLE - December 13, 2018 (Kalispell, Mont.) Montana, with its wide-open plains in the east and fertile valley floors in the west, is inextricably linked to agriculture. Those of us who live in the Flathead Valley frequently drive on roads cutting through acres of farmland, its borders only hemmed in by fences and meandering rivers. If the weatherworn homesteads dotting this land represent a look into the past, then last week’s Flathead Valley Agricultural Forum casts ...

‘The best job in the state': Montana Land Reliance director who helped shepherd a million acres of conservation easements is retiring

ARTICLE Helena, Mont. (July 13, 2018) - Rock Ringling sat in the Montana Land Reliance’s office recently, looking over downtown Helena and recalling a career that has spanned nearly three decades and placed conservation easements on more than a million acres of land in the state. The longtime managing director, one of three mangers under the organization’s structure, is retiring from his position on July 31 after 28 years. Across the table sat Kendall Van Dyk, a former legislator from Billings and the man chosen to succeed him. “I used to tell people that I’ve got the bes...

Mountain Sky Guest Ranch Places Conservation Easement on Paradise Valley Property

PRESS RELEASE Livingston, Mont. (January 19, 2018) - Mountain Sky Guest Ranch has partnered with The Montana Land Reliance (MLR) to permanently protect an historic property in the Paradise Valley. The donated easement, signed by both parties on January 5, 2018, protects 6,294 acres of rural, working lands stretching from Highway 89 on its east side to public land in the Custer Gallatin National Forest on the west. The property is surrounded by other lands protected by MLR. This contiguous block of protected lands is part of the other nearly 30,000 acres permanently protected lands by MLR i...

Mountain Hi Ranch Permanently Protected

PRESS RELEASE Bozeman, Mont. (July 20, 2017) - The Trust for Public Land, in partnership with The Montana Land Reliance, today announced that it has purchased a conservation easement on the 2,370- acre Mountain Hi Ranch, 20 miles north of Bozeman in Gallatin County. The land will continue to be owned and operated by the family-run Mountain Hi Ranch Corporation and will be used for ranching and farming, consistent with the agriculture heritage of the region. The terms of the easement permanently bar residential subdivision in one of the fastest growing counties in the nation, guaranteeing...

Montana conservation group hits 1 million-acre mark for easements

ARTICLE Helena, Mont. (August 10, 2017) - One million acres. It’s an area roughly the size of Glacier National Park or the Bob Marshall Wilderness. But these particular million acres are not one contiguous landscape and did not come in one fell swoop. It took four decades and more than 800 negotiations across the state of Montana. Last Saturday, White Sulphur Springs rancher Phil Rostad signed the conservation easement for his family ranch, pushing the total acreage held in easements by the Montana Land Reliance over the million-acre mark. “We’re just kind of stewards of the la...


  ARTICLE Big Sky, Mont. (June 17, 2017) - In the last issue of Explore Big Sky, we explored how conservation easements work and introduced potential benefits available to landowners who donate a conservation easement to a land trust. In this installment, we’ll take a look at associated tax benefits and touch on the process involved to set up an easement. From a land conservation perspective, conservation easements are the only tool with the capacity to perpetually prevent inappropriate development on private lands containing some of the richest habitat and soils in the state...


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...

Protected in perpetuity: Conservation easement secures future of Shoco Ranch near Augusta

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 ...

Montana Land Reliance keeps 1 million acres from subdivision

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...