BOZEMAN — The Gallatin Valley Land Trust (GVLT) just completed its 50,000 acres of conservation easements in southwest Montana.
Most of us think of GVLT as the folks who create trails around the area, it turns out that’s about half of their work. I talked with GVLT Executive Director Chet Work about this milestone.
He says it’s taken a little more than 30 years, and 116 families to achieve this milestone. Work also noted that 100,000 acres of land in the valley have been turned into housing developments in that time, so the conservation effort continues. He explained that conservation easements allow agricultural or other landowners with significant wild habitat to assure those lands will not be turned into new housing developments.
GVLT works closely with those families to make sure they know what the easement means, and that they get reimbursed for protecting these wild places that can be home to wildlife and important fisheries. Work said at first it was challenging to get people to be involved in these easements, now word of mouth can help. He explained a recent easement in the Springhill area resulted in a neighboring landowner also wanting to complete an easement. He added the two landowners are cousins.