On behalf of Five Valleys Land Trust, we are pleased to introduce our 2021-2024 Conservation Initiatives, which have been developed to guide our work of the next four years with an eye towards a ten-year horizon for project development and impact.
Five Valleys will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2022. On the eve of such a momentous milestone, we undertook a planning process to provide a vision and framework to guide us as we enter the next half-century of conserving western Montana’s natural legacy.
In 2020 we conducted a survey and listening sessions among our members and partners, facilitated strategy sessions with board and staff, and held interviews with peer land trusts. In concert, we worked with Public Interest Management Group to conduct financial modeling to develop a plan to balance our short-term and long-term financial goals. The opportunity to utilize financial modeling amidst the uncertainties of the Covid-19 pandemic provided invaluable insight and has helped create a sound roadmap for our future.
The culmination of these efforts is a dynamic strategic business plan that focuses on the Conservation Initiatives featured here and lays the groundwork for the next chapter for Five Valleys Land Trust. It incorporates building upon our core values as we focus on organizational excellence, ongoing integration of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion in our efforts, and working with our partners and landowners throughout western Montana to accomplish thoughtful, innovative conservation.
The future is bright. Thank you for your dedication to protecting this special place we call home.
-Jeff Roth, President, Board of Directors - Whitney Schwab, Executive Director
Our service area protects one of the last intact ecosystems in the world: the northern Rockies. Western Montana also supports a robust agricultural economy that in turn supports dozens of communities and hundreds of families. Protection of working lands in places like Flint Creek Valley, Potomac Valley, Jocko Valley, the greater Missoula Valley, Bitterroot Valley and Woodworth Meadows ensures that wildlife habitat is protected and connected while simultaneously protecting the livelihoods of the farming, ranching, and Tribal families that have stewarded them for generations.
Five Valleys currently stewards 193 conservation easements that represent over 80,700 privately-owned acres. We ensure the perpetual protection of these special places by building strong relationships with our conservation easement landowners, visiting each of our easements annually, and connecting landowners with restoration and management resources. Through the decades, as the land passes from one owner to the next, Five Valleys is there to ensure that the land remains healthy and intact.
We also steward the properties we own—the Rock Creek Confluence, Lincoln Community River Park, and Marshall Mountain—for public access and habitat restoration. Owning land helps us better understand management challenges while also providing unique opportunities to connect our community to the landscape through education, research, volunteerism, and recreation.
Sustainable, diverse, and equitable access to open spaces is more important than ever. Open lands offer places to foster physical and mental health, connect with friends and family, and provide important civic infrastructure. From Mount Dean Stone, to community trails projects, to the publicly accessible lands we own at the Rock Creek Confluence, Lincoln Community River Park, and Marshall Mountain, this initiative is at work across our service area. We have also helped some private easement landowners ensure perpetual public access to their properties through Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ Block Management hunting program or projects such as the Beacon Hill Trail. Enjoying our lands and waters is part of what makes living in Montana so great, and we are proud to continue that legacy.
Climate change is a broad, challenging issue. Yet, through finding common ground we can help equip western Montana to be resilient and adaptive to a changing climate. We can help mitigate catastrophic wildfire close to homes through supporting timber stewardship projects, which may also provide a source of revenue for forest landowners. We can protect both large working ranches and carbon-sequestering grasslands by focusing our efforts in areas such as the Upper Clark Fork Valley and Flint Creek Valley. Forging partnerships with climate-oriented organizations helps bring in new resources and funding, the latest science, and meet mutual goals. Through collaboration, listening, and being open to innovation, we can help communities and our larger region develop climate solutions as we explore new opportunities, together.
Download our 2021-2024 Conservation Initiatives brochure at the button below:
Photo of wildflowers above the Flint Creek Valley by Jason Savage Photography