October 4, 2016|
On September 29, 2016, the Gainey Foundation permanently protected their ranch through a conservation easement with The Montana Land Reliance (MLR). The 2,500-acre property is located in the Big Hole Valley north of Glen, between Butte and Dillion, and is bounded on one side by three miles of the Big Hole River and by Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land on the to the north. The easement completes a block of permanently protected land along the Big Hole River and in the Highland Mountains.
In 2011, the Gainey Foundation approached MLR to permanently conserve its ranch with a conservation easement. In 2013, the Gainey Foundation worked with the National Resource and Conservation Service (NRCS) to create a Wetland Reserve Easement on its wetland and adjacent acres. In 2016, with support from NRCS and private donors, MLR successfully met the bargain sale price and recorded the easement in Madison County. The Gainey Foundation will continue to use the property as a retreat center. All of the 2,500-acre property is protected from rural subdivision and will prohibit trophy homes along this pristine stretch of the Big Hole River. The river continues to be available to all Montanans to enjoy the river views and its fishery.
Both the NRCS and MLR easements protect significant fish and wildlife habitat, open space, and agricultural lands. This acreage includes the three miles of Big Hole River frontage, and reaches an elevation of 5,640 feet in the Highland Mountains providing permanent wildlife habitat and connectivity for moose, elk, sheep, and antelope, among other species. “This pristine stretch of the Big Hole River Valley resembles what Lewis and Clark experienced during their trip through the area in 1804 and now for our kids and grandchildren.” Said Jay Erickson, Managing Director for MLR.
A conservation easement is a voluntary agreement between a landowner and a qualified organization, such as The Montana Land Reliance. A conservation easement restricts certain land uses, such as residential development to protect conservation values.
Since its establishment in 1978, MLR has completed over 825 easement agreements protecting nearly 1,000,000 acres of private property in Montana. MLR holds 15 other conservation easements in the Big Hole Valley on over 14,500 acres of land and 50 miles of river and stream frontage.