Conservation easements are one of the most powerful and effective tools available for the permanent conservation of private lands in the United States. They have been particularly useful in Montana where so much land is owned as private ranches. These multi-generation ranch families are dedicated stewards and vital partners with the Conservancy in preserving a broad range of wildlife habitat.
A conservation easement is a voluntary, legally binding agreement that limits certain types of uses and development on a piece of property now and in the future. In Montana, easements protect wildlife habitat, at the same time helping families continue the ranching tradition and pass on their land to future generations.
The first-ever conservation easement in Montana was donated to the Conservancy in 1976. In the year's since completion of this 1,800-acre easement in the Blackfoot Valley, the Conservancy has placed more than 300,000 acres under easement across the state. Here are some of the most recent.
More than 730 acres of habitat for deer, elk, and bears; along with waters for westslope cutthroat trout have been protected under easement on Doug and Jeanne Hall's ranch in the Potomac Valley. A new public trail access is also included, all making this an example of the Montana Legacy Project goal of conserving habitat, public access and traditional ways of life such as ranching.
In December, the Conservancy purchased two easements on 1,860 acres of the Rappold Ranch near Dupuyer on the Rocky Mountain Front. The ranch is in prime grizzly bear country and supports a great variety of wildlife, including grassland and upland game birds, raptors, deer and elk. Combined with two existing easements, nearly 4,000 acres have now been permanently conserved. Read the story
The juxtaposition of grassland, pine and deciduous forest on this ranch provides an enormously diverse assemblage of habitats. A range of animals, from mountain lions, beavers and fox to pronghorn, elk and deer are found here. More than 60 bird species were found here, including Greater Sage-grouse. 3,186 acres are now protected under easement.
Easements on the historic Cornwell Ranch near Glasgow are preserving valuable native grassland and family ranching. See how