Over 7,000 Acres of Timberland Permanently Protected in Flathead County
The Trust for Public Land, in partnership with Southern Pine Plantations, doing business as SPP Montana (SPP), and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, today announced the permanent protection of 7,256 acres of timberland in Flathead County, known as the Lost Trail Conservation Easement. This conservation easement provides permanent public access to exceptional recreation lands while allowing SPP to continue sustainable timber harvesting, all while protecting unique wildlife habitat.
“This project truly meets a triple bottom line by providing outdoor access for the community, protecting wildlife habitat and ensuring timber harvesting can continue,” said Catherine Schmidt, Field Representative with The Trust for Public Land, “It’s projects like this that demonstrate the power of conservation for communities across Montana. We’re grateful to the partnership and support of SPP and FWP in making this project a reality.”
This project builds upon The Trust for Public Land’s long history of working in the region and will complement an existing network of public lands, including the adjacent 7,965-acre Lost Trail National Wildlife Refuge, the 4,093 acres of Natural Resource Conservation Service-held Wetland Reserve Program easements, and the nearby 142,200-acre Thompson-Fisher Conservation Easement, a previous Trust for Public Land project. Over 20 years, The Trust for Public Land has preserved over 600,000 acres in Montana leaving a legacy of public access for future generations.
This property protects Dredger Ridge’s entire north-facing slope, which is one of the most popular elk hunting areas in northwest Montana. The property is also vital for protecting habitat for grizzly bears and Canada lynx.
“This collaboration showcases the value of public-private partnerships and good landowner relations that ensure permanent recreational access and habitat conservation,” said Jim Williams, regional supervisor for FWP. “We are very grateful to have a willing landowner like SPP recognize these conservation benefits for all Montanans.”
FWP will hold the conservation easement on this property and SPP will remain the landowner. The Trust for Public Land negotiated and managed the establishment of the conservation easement. Funding for the conservation easement was made possible through the USFS Forest Legacy Program, Habitat Montana, and the Montana Fish & Wildlife Conservation Trust. This project would not have been possible without the generous partnership and conservation mindset of SPP.
“SPP recognizes that a viable timber industry and outdoor recreational access are both important to the people of Montana. Securing a conservation easement on these lands provides a long‐term solution toward preserving both. This is an important first step in working with The Trust for Public Land to conserve critical working forests across northwest Montana,” said Pat Patton, the Manager for SPP Montana.
“Montana’s public lands are the envy of the world, and today’s announcement means even more of those lands will be permanently open and accessible to the public, and continue to be a boon to our state’s economy,” said Senator Jon Tester. “I am grateful to everyone who worked to make this happen, and I look forward to continuing the fight to ensure these lands – and the outdoor industry that depends on them – remain in public hands for generations to come.”
“The Lost Trail Conservation Easement will conserve wildlife habitat, create new trail connections, and expand recreation and sportsman access for Montanans right outside of Kalispell. Glad to see this critically important project that was funded through the Land and Water Conservation Fund get completed this year,” Senator Steve Daines said.
“I am glad to see the federal government in partnership with the private sector using conservation easements to promote public access and continued sustainable timber production,” Representative Greg Gianforte said. “Montanans will now be able to enjoy this land for generations to come.”
About The Trust for Public Land
The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. Millions of people live within a 10-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year. To support The Trust for Public Land and share why nature matters to you, visit www.tpl.org.