From Civil War colonel to tech investor, from coal to conservation, the story of land on Bozeman Pass

2/13/2017 Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Michael Wright, Photo by Rachel Leathe

CHESTNUT — A big meadow, glowing white, Chestnut Mountain rising behind it. Aspen groves and conifers surround the meadow, which starts flat and rolls gently north, losing elevation and then rising again, a second hill. Between them, a little gully, a crease in the Gallatin Range to the west, a line of willows poking out of it.

Nice views, plenty of flat land, not far off Trail Creek Road — wouldn’t be a bad spot for a subdivision. But instead of that, Brendan Weiner is talking about a different kind of development.

“There’s a lot of cool watershed restoration projects that can happen,” Weiner said this week, standing in the meadow.

Weiner, a program director for the Gallatin Valley Land Trust, was standing in the middle of the 12th conservation easement he’s helped negotiate in the last four years. This one, which grew out of the desire of one landowner to sell and preserve the open space, happened to be on a relatively untouched parcel in the Trail Creek area, roughly 460 acres where houses won’t pop up. He’s excited about what the future holds. Maybe some aspen grove restoration, or some willow planting.

Three creeks run across the land, headwater streams for the East Gallatin. The land here hasn’t changed much in the last century, though everything around it has.

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