The Montana Land Reliance, Havre Trails Partner with Havre Landowner to Protect Saddle Butte Formation and Open Trails for the Public

At over 3,000 feet in elevation, Saddle Butte is the highest point near Havre, Montana. Its rocky formations and deep coulees were formed by ancient lava flows and pressure seams. From the summit of Lieberg Peak, you can see the Sweetgrass Hills to the northwest, the Bears Paw Mountains to the southeast, and the Highwood Mountains to the south. Due to its elevation, the top of the butte is an entirely different ecoregion than nearby Havre. Wildflowers are prolific in the spring and early summer, and mule deer, bald eagles, and sharp-tailed grouse can be found on the property year-round.

Saddle Butte, courtesy of Havre Trails

Havre doesn’t have an active land trust, so when Rick and Patricia (Patty) Lieberg decided it was time to conserve their land, which includes the Saddle Butte Formation, they reached out to The Montana Land Reliance (MLR). From the beginning, Rick and Patty had something special in mind. They wanted to ensure the land would be forever protected but also wanted the option to allow public access on Saddle Butte for hiking and wildlife viewing.

“When we bought this land years ago, we knew it needed to be protected,” said Rick Lieberg. “We feel like this place should be enjoyed by everyone, not just us.”

Beginning in 2021, MLR worked with the Liebergs, Havre Trails (a local nonprofit dedicated to outdoor recreation), and Hill County to draft a conservation easement that achieves Rick and Patty’s goals of protecting their land while also permitting public access to a portion of the property.

“It worked out very well,” said Brad Hansen, MLR’s Eastern Manager. “MLR will hold the conservation easement protecting the land, Hill County will hold the public access agreement, and Havre Trails will maintain the trails. This project is a great example of how different entities can work together toward a shared vision.”

Lindsey Brandt-Bennett, President of Havre Trails, is also excited to have the conservation easement finalized. She noted that volunteers have already begun work on several hiking routes, including a 1.5-mile loop that explores much of the Saddle Butte topography.

“It’s wonderful to have this kind of access right outside of town,” said Lindsey Brandt-Bennett. “Rick and Patty have provided the community with an incredible opportunity to get out and enjoy this beautiful landscape.”

MLR would like to recognize the Liebergs for their dedication to protecting an important part of the Havre community. Rick noted his satisfaction in getting the easement completed.

“We continue to own the land, it’s protected moving forward, and we can allow others to enjoy this place,” said Rick. “It’s exactly what we had in mind when we started this project three years ago.”

Brandt-Bennet and the Liebergs


About The Montana Land Reliance

Founded in Montana in 1978, MLR has grown to be one of the largest land trusts in the country. MLR has partnered with nearly 1,000 families to protect over 1.3 million acres of private lands that form the fabric of Montana’s local communities. To learn more visit or call 406-443-7027.

About Havre Trails

Havre Trails is a 501c3 volunteer non-profit organization with the mission of promoting healthy lifestyles, safety, access to outdoor recreation, and a pride of place by improving the walking and biking trails in our city and county. We organize hiking events and raise money for recreational trail projects in the Havre/Hill County area.