A Million Acres Conserved
The Nature Conservancy in Montana has hit a milestone – conservation of a million acres – one acre for every resident of the state!
December 10, 2013
Two conservation easements pushed the chapter over the one million acre mark - one on the Crown of the Continent and the other in the Big Hole Valley, But the achievement is actually the outcome of more than twenty years of partnership and cooperation with private landowners, public agencies, and all the generous people and communities who’ve supported the Conservancy’s vision.
“This kind of conservation success doesn’t happen overnight or in isolation.” said the Conservancy’s state director Richard Jeo, “This achievement was built on years of forging trust and goodwill in the community and with the support of an army of dedicated, hard-working partners, who have our deepest gratitude. It’s also a pretty exciting way to end the year!"
The Conservancy works across the state, from the western forests and family ranchlands of the Crown of the Continent, into the headwaters of the Missouri River and Greater Yellowstone region, and out to the vast Northern Prairies, where it operates a pioneering grassbank.
Undoubtedly, the journey to a million acres sped up exponentially in 2008 with completion of the Montana Legacy Project, the Conservancy’s purchase of 310,586 acres of commercial timber land from Plum Creek timber company. Since that time, the organization has been transferring the land to public and private owners.
Most recently, the U.S. Forest Service purchased 11,600 acres of Legacy land in the Lolo and Flathead National Forests. The land in this purchase includes acreage in the Petty Creek area west of Missoula, on Marshall Mountain, and in the Swan Valley. As with most of the project deals, the transfer reconnects land that had been fragmented into a checkerboard of public and private ownership – threatening its natural values and resulting in costly and disjointed management. By consolidating ownership, the overall benefits of the land for wildlife, recreation, and working forests greatly exceeds the acres purchased.
Local resident Doug McCoy and his wife regularly hike in the area and are delighted with the sale.
"As landowners in the Petty Creek Valley for over 18 years, my wife and I are grateful to both the Montana Legacy Project and the United States Forest Service (USFS) for their successful efforts in maintaining the legacy of public access to the over 10,000 acres of the former, local Plum Creek properties. It is extremely gratifying to know that this beautiful valley and the surrounding mountains will be protected from development and accessible to the public for both present and future generations.” said McCoy.
This purchase and the latest conservation easements are examples of how the Conservancy finds the right set of tools, partners, and vision to achieve conservation that will stand the test of time.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org