By Greg Tollefson, Interim Executive Director
As you will surely note while perusing our fall newsletter, the theme threading throughout is that really good things take time, and lots of patience. Our mission, “to protect for future generations western Montana’s natural legacy – our river corridors, wildlife habitat, agricultural lands, and community open spaces,” is simple enough, but the real work of conservation is far from simple.
I have been reminded of that again and again over these few short months that I have served as Interim Executive Director.
Any decision to protect a particular piece of the magical landscape blanketing our western Montana working area requires a strong conservation ethic, a vision for a future that honors the past, and a willingness to work through thorny issues to achieve common goals. Whether it is a family decision to place a conservation easement on a ranch, a broader community decision to acquire open space, or an effort to secure public access to assure the public benefits are truly available to all, there are always difficult decisions to be made.
The recent completion of the Graveley Ranch project near Garrison, the Thisted easement along Josephine Creek in the Ninemile Valley, and the Hayes-Harrison easement in Potomac Valley are all testimony to the vision and commitment of these families, and the many partner groups that must always collaborate to move such projects to completion and into permanent stewardship.
Each day that I have been privileged to work with the Five Valleys staff, the conservation-minded landowners we serve, and the community partners we depend upon, I have been impressed by and grateful for the perseverance, vision and commitment of all involved. But, it is our incredibly professional and competent staff that have daily impressed me the most. They get good things done, no matter how long it sometimes takes.
Now, it is time to get another good thing done, so I am honored to hand over the helm of Five Valleys Land Trust to our new Executive Director. Jenny Zaso brings new talent and enthusiasm to an accomplished crew. Her experience in land trust work, fundraising, and business management will complement the skills of the staff, and with her commitment to the mission of Five Valleys she will no doubt carry on with distinction the work that Five Valleys has been doing for the last 47 years.
Thanks to you all, for your years of support of this gracious community enterprise. And good luck, Jenny!
In this edition:
This summer, the Graveley family and Five Valleys celebrated the finalization of our largest conservation project to date: the 8,200-acre Graveley Ranch project, in the scenic Upper Clark Fork Valley.
Anna Marie Hayes-Harrison's second conservation easement with Five Valleys will protect nearly 600 acres of ranchland and wildlife habitat in the beautiful and productive Potomac Valley.
The Thisted family's conservation easement in the Ninemile will protect wildlife habitat and ensure that stream restoration work will continue, and realizes the family's long held conservation vision.
In 2015, Five Valleys came into ownership of 160 acres on Marshall Mountain. Since, partnerships have led to a reimagining of what a recreational area can be, and how our community can help shape that vision.
This summer was chock-full of events, planning and development across the Mount Dean Stone landscape. Read about Miller Creek's first all abilities trail and what 2020 has in store.
We were thrilled to be awarded accreditation renewal from the Land Trust Accreditation Commission in August.
Header photo of the Graveley brothers on their ranch by Five Valleys staff