My three-year tenure as President of Five Valleys ended in December, so this is the last time I have the honor of addressing you in that capacity. I thought I would look back on those three years to summarize some of our accomplishments over that time. At the end of 2013 we had protected over 70,000 acres of important land in western Montana. From 2007 to 2013 the number of acres doubled from the amount protected in the previous 35 years. Projects during that period ranged from a 7,000-acre ranch with an important grizzly corridor to a 7-acre easement up Rock Creek. Much credit for this goes to you, as your support provided the capacity to accomplish this work. Many of you recall, I am sure, the Alberton Gorge project. Begun over 20 years ago, this consisted of a series of land purchases and swaps that resulted in the Alberton Gorge moving from private hands to state ownership. At the end of that series of transactions, Five Valleys held a number of land parcels situated throughout Mineral County. I am happy to report that, late in 2013, Five Valleys sold the last of those parcels, completing totally that complex, but enormously significant, transaction. More recently, Five Valleys purchased, with the help of contributions from many of you, the important land at the confluence of Rock Creek and the Clark Fork River. Previous ownership had planned a hotly contested development of that property. Now, along with partners including the University of Montana and Trout Unlimited, that land will be restored and transformed into beneficial uses, including educational activities and public access. I am truly honored to have served during this very productive period for your land trust. I thank you sincerely for your support and confidence in the organization and I am most excited to have the highly committed and energetic Amber Sherrill succeed me.
JIM VALEO, OUTGOING BOARD PRESIDENT
Download the 2013 Annual Report (PDF)
Photo by Athena Lonsdale