GVLT applauded for preserving open space

8/12/2016 Bozeman Daily Chronicle by BDC Editorial Board

Southwest Montana is drawing more newcomers than just about any other area in the Northern Rockies. But in a bit of cruel irony, everyone who chooses to relocate here has the potential to destroy a little bit of what drew them here in the first place by creating demand for the housing developments that consume our wide open spaces and the lifestyle that fosters.

Many efforts have been launched to preserve our region’s environment, but none has been more crucial to the preservation of open space than the Gallatin Valley Land Trust.

The GVLT recently completed its 100th conservation easement and that’s a milestone worth noting.

Since 1990, the GVLT has been combating the disappearance of open space by striking agreements with rural landowners to keep farm and ranch land from being sold to developers. These agreements, known as conservation easements, preserve open space for perpetuity by giving the landowners tax breaks and other financial considerations.

The latest such arrangement will preserve nearly 1,000 acres of farmland some five miles north of Bozeman. All told the GVLT has helped broker the preservation of some 45,000 acres of open space. That amounts to 70 square miles of Southwest Montana that will never see commercial or residential development — the equivalent of a square of land nearly eight and a half miles on each side.

And much to their credit, the staff and board members of the GVLT have also been instrumental in expanding Bozeman’s Main Street to the Mountains trail system to some 80 miles in length.

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