With our rich tradition of public lands, it’s easy to assume that the government is responsible for all the open space, trails, parks, and other outdoor amenities we enjoy in and around our community. But these things often take the hard work, generosity, and dedication of private citizens. That certainly has been the case in western Montana.
As early as 1971 our founders were increasingly nervous about the pace of residential and commercial development in and around the community. They wondered what might happen to the open lands, rivers, and streams that made living here so special. In 1972, they formed the Five Valleys River Park Association with a $100 grant and got to work creating the riverfront park system that is now so important to life in Missoula.
After acquiring and creating parklands along the Clark Fork and Bitterroot Rivers, they promoted the passage of Montana’s first public open space bond in 1980. Before the end of that decade the River Park Association became Five Valleys Land Trust.
We’ve expanded much since then with an amazing network of board, staff, volunteers, supporters, and partners who have contributed to an impressive list of projects and accomplishments. We’ve conserved more than 70,000 acres across western Montana, and we’re just getting started.Meet the teamGet involved
Our mission is to protect for future generations western Montana’s natural legacy – our river corridors, wildlife habitat, agricultural lands, and community open spaces.
The Five Valleys we serve are the Bitterroot, the Blackfoot, the upper Clark Fork, the lower Clark Fork, and the Mission-Jocko.
We believe that the character of these valleys, and the thriving communities in them, is rooted in the clean rivers, open lands, and abundant wildlife that surround them. We work with communities, private landowners, governments, and other partners to protect these natural treasures for the benefit of this and future generations.
They belong to you, they belong to us all. We work hard not just to establish public lands, but to elevate our quality of life here by keeping all members of our community connected to the land, to nature, and to each other.
We played a key role in the City of Missoula’s acquisition of its two most significant natural landmarks—Mount Jumbo and Mount Sentinel—as well as its riverfront park system, and we continue to do this kind of work. Other public lands successes include eight miles of Clark Fork River frontage through the renowned Alberton Gorge; Phase I of the Blackfoot/Clearwater Land Exchange (856 acres); the Rattlesnake Greenway; Rock Creek, an important blue ribbon fishery; and important segments of the Clark Fork Riverfront Corridor such as Kelly Island and Jacob’s Island.
Sometimes, land that isn’t public is still in the public interest—a centuries-old family farm, a working ranch that includes important wetlands, or a swath of undeveloped forest that provides vital migratory routes to area wildlife. We work with landowners who would like to preserve the value they derive from the land while also honoring its value to the community. We do this through arrangements called conservation easements. The role of Five Valleys Land Trust is to ensure that the shared values of the landowner and the public are meaningful and honored over time.Learn More About Easements
We’re not a government agency but a private, nonprofit corporation that depends on the support of generous donors, landowners, and volunteers to do our work.