Five Valleys Land Trust has always planned for the long term. That’s why I had few doubts that Five Valleys would rise to the challenges of 2020, continue to support our community’s needs, and still accomplish significant conservation and stewardship projects across western Montana. As you will see in this 2020 Annual Report we met these challenges.
More than ever, the pandemic demonstrated the value of open lands for people to relax and connect—so in 2020 we built a new trail and welcomed new open space into public ownership. We ensured the perpetuity of the lands under our care even with the challenges of visiting with landowners during a pandemic. We protected family agriculture in Potomac. We held virtual events for the first time, and in doing so, connected with more people from more places than ever before.
Your belief in our work made these successes possible. As we reflect on last year and look to the opportunities ahead, your trust sustains and inspires us in our mission to protect our natural legacy.
In 2020, we helped to protect working lands and wildlife habitat in Potomac, moved 350 acres of open space and a new trail into public ownership, and brought diverse voices together around a theme that unites us all: equitable access to our open lands and trails.
We worked with Potomac landowners Barbara and Hugh Sheehy to protect 194 acres of working agricultural lands in this regionally important valley for wildlife connectivity.
At the close of 2020 we were thrilled to help move 350 acres of open space and a new 5-mile trail into City of Missoula ownership. With this development, public access to the Mount Dean Stone ridge was made possible for the first time.
In July we hosted a virtual panel discussion and universal trails workshop that focused on equity, diversity, and overcoming barriers to access in the outdoors. Watch the engaging panel discussion on our YouTube channel!
In 2020 we ensured the continued protection of the 183 conservation easements under our care while also taking precautions to support the health of our conservation easement landowners and staff. Every year, our stewardship team tours each of our conservation easements to monitor the land and note any changes. We also visit with out easement landowners about management questions or concerns. These visits are the backbone of our promise of perpetuity for the private lands we help steward in partnership with our conservation easement landowners.
In addition to our private conservation easements, Five Valleys owns and stewards three properties for public access or future community open space. Learn more about these special properties that are providing places for people to recreate, learn, and connect with land and each other:
Located at the confluence of the Clark Fork River and Rock Creek, this 290-acre property is thriving as an outdoor classroom, recovering natural area, and hosts a universal trail.
Just a half mile from Lincoln, the Lincoln Community River Park offers a place for visitors and locals alike to enjoy a day on the Blackfoot River.
Once a local ski area, Five Valleys now stewards a portion of the mountain for public access. The mountain now hosts over six miles of mountain bike and hiking trails.
More than ever, the 2020 pandemic highlighted the importance of access to and the conservation of our open spaces. From socially-distanced trail building to going virtual with our events for the first time, our community showed up to support this special place we call home.