MT and ID Conservation Achievements for 2001

HELENA, MONTANA – For 30 years, the Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national non-profit land conservation organization, has helped communities preserve open space and land for people to enjoy. In 2001, TPL protected more than 55,000 acres in Montana and Idaho with a fair market value of nearly $18 million.


Thompson-Fisher River Valleys (Phase II) – Sanders and Lincoln Counties, Montana

Last summer, TPL helped complete the second phase of a three-part effort to secure Montana’s largest conservation easement, transferring development rights of 53,000 acres of critical wildlife and fisheries habitat in the Thompson and Fisher river valleys in northwest Montana to the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. This popular recreation site is also the winter range of the largest herd of elk in the area as well and home to numerous threatened trout species. Phase I of the project was completed in December 2000 and consists of conservation easements covering 13,320 acres in the Fishtrap Creek of the Thompson River drainage. TPL is working to complete the third and final phase of the project, comprised of 74,000 acres, by the end of 2002.

Swan River Valley (Phase I) – Missoula and Lake Counties, Montana

Featuring stunning landscapes, critical habitat and a vast spectrum of outdoor recreation, the Swan River Valley is a precious landscape in many ways. The most biologically diverse valley in Montana, it provides crucial environment and migratory paths for threatened grizzly bear populations as well as elk, mule and white-tailed deer, moose, black bears and mountain lions. In its natural state, Swan Valley provides exceptionally high water quality, supporting healthy populations of fish, including the vulnerable bull and westslope cutthroat trout and is a cherished spot for hunting, fishing, camping, hiking and horseback riding. Last fall, TPL successfully completed the first of a multi-phase strategy to conserve 2,285 acres of Plum Creek Timberlands holdings scattered across the Swan Valley. With funding support from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, TPL conveyed more than 1,100 acres to the United States Forest Service who will incorporate the land into the Flathead National Forest. TPL continues its work with local communities, landowners, and resource managers to identify important conservation resources and develop strategies that protect and restore the ecological integrity and economic sustainability of the Swan River Valley.

Ox Yoke Ranch – Park County, Montana

Nestled in the heart of Paradise Valley, the Ox Yoke Ranch typifies an agrarian way of life that is being threatened by uncontrolled development. As part of its burgeoning Working Landscapes Program, TPL helped protect the 192-acre site with a conservation easement in an effort to keep agriculture alive in the region and preserve the cherished views that feature nearly a mile of pristine Yellowstone River frontage. In addition, the easement will protect important habitat for mule deer, osprey, beaver, bald eagles, neo-tropical migratory birds and a variety of fish species.

Cougar Bar (Phase I) – Nez Perce County, Idaho

In May 2001, TPL helped protect 781 acres along the Snake River in Idaho, transferring ownership to the United States Forest Service. Accessible only by foot, horseback or boat, the beautiful shoreline otherwise could have been developed into recreational cabin sites. The Forest Service will incorporate these steep and rugged lands into the adjacent Hells Canyon National Recreation Area. TPL continues efforts to preserve a second 98-acre parcel of prime shoreline along the Snake River.