The Trust for Public Land and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Announces Purchase of Conservation Easement on 7,068 Acres of Forest Land at Trumbull Creek

The Trust for Public Land, in partnership with Montana Fish, Wildlife, & Parks, today announced that it has secured a conservation easement on 7,068 acres of the Trumbull Creek property. The affected land, owned by F.H. Stoltze Land & Lumber Co., complements 3,000 acres protected at Haskill Basin, where a similar conservation easement was secured in 2016. The Trumbull Creek property provides outstanding wildlife habitat, serves as the visual backdrop for the north end of the Flathead Valley, and offers spectacular views of Glacier National Park. The property is easily accessible from the towns of Whitefish and Columbia Falls.

The terms of the easement permanently bar commercial and residential development on the beloved local property while continuing its historical use for commercial timberland and recreation. The land will continue to be owned by the F.H. Stoltze Land & Lumber Company and will be permanently managed for sustainable commercial forestry and natural resource benefits. The agreement protects local forestry jobs, important habitat for fish and wildlife, and ensures continued access for recreational activities, including hunting, fishing, cross country skiing, and hiking.

Local youth and families will especially benefit from the conservation of the land, which supports many outdoor educational programs, including the Flathead Family Forestry Expo and the Ravenwood Outdoor Learning Center. Thanks to a longstanding relationship with the Stoltze family, these programs will continue to use the property for self-guided trail tours, forest education classes, and environmental science and wilderness survival workshops.

“Flathead County and neighboring cities are rapidly changing and growing. We’re pleased to have helped preserve the heritage of local land while also protecting public access and wildlife habitat,” said Dick Dolan, Northern Rockies Director, The Trust for Public Land.

The 7,068-acre Trumbull Creek property is located in the heart of the Crown of the Continent eco-region, which is part of the last remaining stronghold for several native fish and wildlife species, including grizzly bear, Canada lynx, and westslope cutthroat trout. Conserving these lands will help ensure clean water and healthy wildlife habitat for these federally listed threatened and endangered species while continuing to support the local economy and recreational opportunities.

“The drainages and surrounding forests provide very important habitat for a variety of fish and wildlife species, including many rare and sensitive species, all of which will benefit from this project. We appreciate the Stoltze family, the public, and all partners for their support,” said Jim Williams, Regional Supervisor, Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks.

The Stoltze family are valued landowners who have been creating forestry jobs in the Flathead County community for more than one hundred years. Deeply dedicated to historic and natural conservation, the family pursued the conversation easement to ensure that the property would continue in the historic land uses that have served the company well.

“The Trumbull Creek conservation easement is a win-win for everyone, just like the adjacent easement in Haskill Basin. The Stoltze family is very proud to continue sustainably managing the forests on these lands and allowing the traditional recreational uses, while protecting the land from future development,” said Chuck Roady, Vice President & General Manager of Stoltze.

State and federal partners jointly funded the $9.5 million conservation easement, and Stoltze made the easement possible with a significant donation of land value. Federal funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund was provided to the project partners through the USDA Forest Legacy Program and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund program. The Land and Water Conservation Fund uses a small fraction of revenues generated by offshore oil and gas royalty payments to protect and enhance outdoor recreation and natural resources; it is not supported with general taxpayer dollars.

State partners include the Montana Fish & Wildlife Conservation Trust, established by Congress to conserve fish and wildlife habitat and promote public access, and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ Habitat Montana program. Under terms of the agreement, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks will hold the conservation easement and monitor its implementation.

The Trumbull Creek project was strongly supported by U.S. Senators Jon Tester (D) and Steve Daines (R), and Congressman Ryan Zinke (R-MT-At Large).

“This is another example of why on-the-ground collaboration is pivotal to good forest management,” Tester said. “Thanks to the Stoltze Family and local partners who crafted this agreement to preserve public access, protect jobs, strengthen wildlife, and expand recreation opportunities on over 10,000 acres outside of Glacier Park. I will continue to stand with Montanans to support LWCF, which makes these types of projects possible.”

“I commend The Trust for Public Land, the State of Montana, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and F.H. Stoltze Land & Lumber for this partnership. This is a commonsense project that would keep the land actively managed by one of Montana’s oldest family-owned mills and facilitate outdoor recreation,” said Senator Steve Daines.