In 1972, conservation-minded citizens in the Missoula area recognized that the natural landscape of their community could change dramatically as residential and commercial growth soared. They believed the time was right to join together to seek practical ways to protect the stream corridors, wildlife habitat and remarkable natural beauty of the surrounding Five Valleys. The newly formed Five Valleys River Parks Association quickly became the catalyst for creating the riverfront park system through Missoula.
In 1989 the Association expanded its conservation capabilities and mission beyond the City of Missoula into Western Montana and the Five Valleys Land Trust was born. Five Valleys expanded again in 1995, welcoming the Rock Creek Trust as a special project with a focus solely on the “Blue Ribbon” drainage. Rock Creek remains one of Five Valleys' highest priorities.
With a diverse, 16 member board, a staff of 12 (10 full-time and 2 part-time), and a strong base of supporters, Five Valleys works collaboratively with private landowners, government agencies, and otAs. Having helped protect more than 70,000 acres throughout western Montana, holding over 130 conservation easements more than 50,000 acres of key private land,
Five Valleys played a key role in the City of Missoula’s acquisition of its two most significant natural landmarks—Mt. Jumbo and Mt. Sentinel. Other public acquisition successes include seven miles of Clark Fork River frontage through the renowned Alberton Gorge; Phase I of the Blackfoot/Clearwater Land Exchange (856 acres); protecting more than 100 acres of key private lands enabling the expansion of the popular Route of the Hiawatha bicycle trail from Haugan to St. Regis, MT; the Rattlesnake Greenway; and important segments of the Clark Fork Riverfront Corridor such as Kelly Island and Jacob’s Island.
With well over 100 conservation easements, we continually work with landowners to make sure easement terms and conditions are followed and the health of the land is maintained. Our stewardship efforts go beyond our annual monitoring responsibilities by assisting landowners in projects to restore/enhance the conservation values of their land. Over the years we have helped many landowners with riparian and wetland restoration, fire-hazard reduction, prescribed forest thinning projects to encourage old growth conditions, weed management planning, and more.