County approves three conservation easements as open space bond money runs out
9/27/2017 Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Freddy Monares
Gallatin County Commissioners approved three conservation easements Tuesday and spent the last of the money available from an open space bond that voters approved 10 years ago.
A dairy farm, seed farm and grazing land received a combined $285,272 in bond money to remain open space. Montana Land Reliance and Gallatin Valley Land Trust coordinated the three projects.
MLR handled the Woosley land, located in the eastern part of the county and primarily used for grazing and agriculture production. The Woosley land received $131,926 of bond money.
GVLT headed up the project for LF Dairy, $84,023, and Kamps Seed Farm, $69,323, both located on the western part of the county in the Churchill and Amsterdam areas.
The two land trusts cooperated with each other to make sure property owners were getting the most bang for their buck with limited resources. Funding requests for the easements were cut by 42 percent both by MLR and GVLT.
Brendan Weiner, program director for GVLT, said the organization was able to rework another easement, and reclassify the land in that project to leverage more money. That freed about $120,000 for both the dairy and seed farms, he said.
“It’s a really remarkable return on investment for county taxpayers, and really finishing what’s left of the bond on a high note with these great projects,” Weiner said.
Commissioner Joe Skinner said he was really excited to be a part of the three conservation easements. The easements, he said, represent the dichotomy of the type of lands the county is trying to protect: land with views that provide wildlife corridors, and agricultural land with top rated soil.