Gallatin County OK’s $1 million for Toohey family conservation easement

4/20/2016 Bozeman Daily Chronicle by Troy Carter

The Gallatin County Commission on Tuesday unanimously approved spending $1.083 million in taxpayer financed bond money to prevent a large farm north of Bozeman from ever being developed into housing or commercial properties.

Mike Harris, the county’s open lands coordinator, and Brendan Weiner, project manager for the Gallatin Valley Land Trust, updated commissioners on the 959-acre conservation easement with the Toohey family, which was given initial approval last June.

The market value of the easement is $4.6 million. The Natural Resource Conservation Service will match the county with another $1 million. And the Tooheys, whose ancestors homesteaded the land in the late 1800s, are donating about half the value of the easement.

The land is located five miles north of Bozeman between Middle Cottonwood Creek and the East Gallatin River, split by Springhill Road. The public often crosses the Toohey farm en route to the Middle Cottonwood Trail, which climbs the west slope of the Bridger Mountains.

The land is used for dry-land farming and livestock pasture. It is being conserved in three parcels by four siblings who live on the property now, Weiner said.

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