Next time you’re driving Highway 200 near Lincoln, take in the view knowing that a little more of this beautiful region is protected in perpetuity. In July, Five Valleys and conservation easement landowners Paraic and Becky Neibergs completed an expansion of the their 315-acre conservation easement in the Blackfoot Valley, protecting 436 acres of wildlife habitat and open space.
The Blackfoot Valley is well known for its wild character. The Neibergs’ Patterson Prairie conservation easement helps to keep it that way. The property lies between Ovando and Lincoln, just north of both the Blackfoot River and Highway 200. This location makes it both more vulnerable to potential development, as well as important for wildlife as they cross the highway coming to and from the river. And wildlife there is: everything from elk, moose, and turkeys to black and grizzly bears, lynx, wolves, and numerous smaller birds and mammals. Many of these species require large ranges, moving between the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex to the north, Mission Mountains to the west, and the Garnet and Sapphire Ranges to the south. In moving across the landscape these species utilize the property’s variety of habitat types: Conifer and shrub-covered slopes, mountain meadows, and numerous springs and seeps that feed an assortment of wetlands, ponds, and streams.
The original 316-acre property was previously owned by The Nature Conservancy, who purchased it from Plum Creek Timber through the Blackfoot Community Project. The Nature Conservancy worked with Five Valleys to place a conservation easement on the land in 2011 before it was purchased by the Neibergs. Through the conservation easement expansion, an adjacent 120-acre parcel previously purchased by the Neibergs was also placed into a conservation easement, permanently protecting the entire 436 acres.
The Neibergs generously donated the additional easement and the project transaction costs. Community support enabled Five Valleys to complete project due diligence and facilitation. Five Valleys extends our gratitude to the Neibergs and our community for helping us protect of more of this wild, interconnected, and scenic place.
Header photo by Five Valleys staff