The Montana Legacy Project

Read the story behind the project (pdf 359 KB)

The Montana Legacy Project is conservation at a scale that can make the difference between survival and extinction for some species.

The Nature Conservancy in Montana, along with our partner, The Trust for Public Land, has purchased more 310,000 acres of private forest land from the Plum Creek timber company. 

The MLP is within the heart of the Crown of the Continent – the 18 million acre mosaic of wild habitat encompassing Glacier National Park, the Bob Marshall Wilderness and surrounding lands. The Crown is one of barely a dozen places left on Earth that has not had a single post-industrial plant or animal extinction. This system harbors the largest population of grizzlies and it's a last toe hold for endangered Canada lynx in the lower 48 states. 


Unchecked, piecemeal development is the single biggest threat to this extraordinary place. If these critical areas of habitat are broken up, and the connections between vital seasonal range are severed, the wealth and vitality of its wildlife, forests and water will be seriously damaged.

Climate change is already altering essential habitat in this region.

Vital Connections

These forests and valleys encompass the intersection of pathways connecting vital habit for wildlife throughout the Northern Rockies.  As climate change alters the planet, the need to preserve habitat is even more urgent for the survival and resilience of some of the Rockies most emblematic animals.

Goals & Strategy

This is one of the most complex & innovative  projects undertaken in conservation because:

  • It is the product of an unusual collaboration of public & private interests -- representing the high level of financial, scientific & political expertise needed to negotiate such a large transaction.
  • It recognizes the land's intrinsic, natural value & its role in the economic sustenance for rural communities.

Ultimately, the land will be conveyed to a combination of public & private conservation owners. In the meantime, the Conservancy will own, and be responsible for managing, the land. 

The Conservancy is maintaining public access to most Legacy land according to our Open Lands Policy (pdf 1.3KB)


Swan River Oxbow Preserve

Seeley Lake Ranger District

Swan Lake Ranger District


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