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 that Montana’s unique agricultural heritage is protected. The Montana Land Reliance will hold title to the easement, monitor its implementation and oversee the terms of the permanent conservation easement.
The Mountain Hi Ranch Corporation currently uses the ranch to raise cattle, and grow winter wheat, barley, and peas. Crops are raised using traditional dryland farming techniques and no-till soil management practices.
“We are honored to work with the Mountain Hi Ranch family and help protect the farms and ranches at the heart of our state’s agricultural heritage. Local ranches like this create jobs, protect water quality, and preserve the culture and history of our region,” said Kristin Kovalik, Senior Project Manager with The Trust for Public Land.
Gallatin County is one of the fastest growing counties in the nation, and the Mountain Hi Ranch owners were motivated to seek a conservation easement in part because the family wanted to protect the integrity of the land and preserve the open space and habitat from intense development pressures.
Funding for the conservation easement was provided by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service Agricultural Land Easement (ALE) program and the Gallatin County Open Lands Program, which contributed $1.1 million toward the project. The county program was established by voters in 2000 and reauthorized in 2004, and has played a critical role in protecting the lands and waters throughout Gallatin County.
“Agriculture is Montana’s number one economic driver — that’s why Farm Bill Conservation Programs like the Agricultural Conservation Easement program are important in strengthening local land partnerships and ensuring family ranches and farms can work for future generations while also protecting wildlife habitat,” said Senator Steve Daines, R – MT, who chairs the Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Forestry, and Natural Resources.
“This easement guarantees that land at the base of the Bridger Mountains will continue to be productive farm land, and be permanently protected for future generations,” said Senator Jon Tester, D – MT, a senior member of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee. “Agreements like this strengthen family farmers and ranchers, and ensure that folks will be able to enjoy the open space, clean water, and wildlife that is so special in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem.”
“By continuing to approve funding issues like the Gallatin County Bond, Gallatin residents are making a statement about the importance of landscape preservation. Without their continued support, there would be no way to protect treasures like the Mountain Hi Ranch,” said Don Seifert, Chair of the Board of Gallatin County Commissioners.
“The Mountain Hi Ranch project is a terrific example of what can be accomplished with local partnerships and local funding,” said Jay Erickson, one of the Managing Directors of The Montana Land Reliance. “In holding and monitoring this easement, we’re proud to call Mountain Hi Ranch a neighbor, and we feel fortunate to live in a place where residents understand the benefits of conservation funding.”
This project was started by the late Alex Diekmann. As a Senior Project Manager for The Trust for Public Land, Alex worked hard to conserve the Montana landscape and protect the quality of life enjoyed by all Montanans. Alex’s legacy continues with the completion of the Mountain Hi Ranch easement.
About The Trust for Public Land
The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. Millions of people live near a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year. To support The Trust for Public Land and share why nature matters to you, visit www.tpl.org.
About The Montana Land Reliance
The Montana Land Reliance partners with landowners to conserve agricultural lands, open space and fish and wildlife habitat in our State. The Montana Land Reliance has permanently conserved more than 38,000 acres of Gallatin County and nearly 1 million acres in Montana.
About the Natural Resources Conservation Service
Since 1935, the Natural Resources Conservation Service has helped America’s private landowners and managers conserve their soil, water, and other natural resources. NRCS provides technical assistance based on sound science and offers financial assistance for many conservation activities, including conservation easements to protect farmland from development and to restore wetlands.