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The Thisted-Josephine Creek Conservation Easement

The beauty of a conservation easement is that it ensures a property will stay much the way it is, in perpetuity. But sometimes, protection of the land can also mean improving it. This fall, Five Valleys and the Thisted family completed the 150-acre Thisted-Josephine Creek conservation easement, ensuring that wildlife habitat and scenic views will be protected, and that ongoing stream reclamation work will continue.

Josephine Creek. Photo by Five Valleys staff.
Josephine Creek. Photo by Five Valleys staff.

The Thisted-Josephine Creek conservation easement protects a stretch of Josephine Creek and an unnamed stream in the heart of rugged and scenic Ninemile Valley. The riparian cedar forest and shrub habitats of the Thisted property support a wide array of wildlife, including moose, black and grizzly bears, mountain lions, and gray wolves. Thanks to its close proximity to USFS, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, and nearby privately conserved lands, the property helps provide wildlife movement corridors for species such as grizzly bear, wolverine, and fisher. Western pearlshell mussels and genetically pure westslope cutthroat trout, a Montana Species of Concern, make a home in the upper lengths of Josephine Creek’s cold, clear waters.

The Thisted-Josephine Creek conservation easement provides habitat for a variety of species. Photo by FVLT staff.
The Thisted-Josephine Creek conservation easement provides habitat for a variety of species. Photo by Five Valleys staff.

In contrast to its upper reaches, lower Josephine Creek was heavily impacted by historic placer mining. Trout Unlimited has been working to mitigate the impacts of mining in the Lower Clark Fork region for many years, with the support of Missoula County, the Department of Environmental Quality, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and the USFS. Over the coming years, TU will continue to restore lower Josephine Creek, and can do so knowing their improvements will be protected by the Thisted conservation easement.

Betty and her family generously donated their conservation easement to Five Valleys, completing the conservation vision that she and her husband, Ralph, had worked towards before Ralph’s death in 2017.

The entire Thisted Family helped make the project possible.
The entire Thisted Family helped make the project possible. The Thisted children, pictured left to right: Renee Gouaux Smith, Eric Gouaux, Carl Gouaux, and Elizabeth Levitzky.

Thanks to the Thisted family, their gift of a conservation easement will ensure that this area is not only protected, but improved for fish and wildlife, and for future Montanans to appreciate.

Betty Thisted with Vickie Edwards, Five Valleys' project manager, and Pelah Hoyt, Five Valleys' Land Director, at her project's closing celebration. Photo by Five Valleys staff.
Betty Thisted with Vickie Edwards, Five Valleys' project manager, and Pelah Hoyt, Five Valleys' Land Director, at the project's closing celebration. Photo by Five Valleys staff.

Header photo courtesy of Betty Thisted

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