GVLT Transfers 160-Acres to USFS

August 26, 2021

Your public lands just grew by 160 acres! In April 2020, GVLT purchased 160 acres in Middle Cottonwood canyon to protect important wildlife habitat and the popular Middle Cottonwood trail. On August 18, 2021, those 160 acres officially became public lands. GVLT was able to convey the property to the USA for inclusion into the Custer-Gallatin National Forest.

Last April, GVLT completed an exciting project that combined trails, conservation, and access to public lands for our bustling community. With the help of several diverse community partners, we purchased a 160-acre parcel in Middle Cottonwood Canyon from the Skogen family. By purchasing this piece of land, we permanently protected the trail corridor and surrounding wildlife habitat from development forever.

The scenic property sits in the West Bridger Mountains, approximately six miles northeast of Bozeman. The entire parcel is mapped as critical winter range for elk and mule deer by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and features diverse wildlife habitat. The parcel also contains the popular Middle Cottonwood Trail which crosses the property for a half-mile. Purchasing the land secured perpetual public access to the trail and surrounding public lands and will provide new hunting and recreational activities to the community.

“This property is a gem and is a tremendous resource for the community. It took a willing and dedicated landowner committed to conservation to get this done,” said Brendan Weiner, Conservation Director at GVLT. The property appraised for $752,000 and the landowner – Michael Skogen – donated over half of the property value towards the project.

The remaining funding came from a pool of private donors, grants, and support from local businesses focused on outdoor recreation, as well as $80,000 from GVLT’s own acquisition fund.

After securing the purchase of the property, GVLT got to work transferring ownership to the United States Forest Service (USFS). The USFS already managed Cottonwood Trail and the adjacent public lands under the Custer Gallatin National Forest, so it made sense to pass this parcel onto them for safe keeping. Initially, we were prepared for the transfer to take up to four years. However, thanks to effective, open communications, a strong partnership with the Bozeman Ranger District, and the due diligence that went into securing the property, we accelerated the transition to under a year and a half.

The community will now have public access to all 160 acres of the highly scenic parcel, where trail users have spotted an array of wildlife including mule deer, elk, moose, mountain goats, and eagles. A pristine, spring-fed creek flows through the property to Middle Cottonwood Creek, surrounded by aspen groves and mature forests.

Here’s to protecting important lands and trails!

THANK YOU to the generous businesses, organizations and individuals who financially supported this project.  Skogen Family, Montana Fish and Wildlife Conservation Trust, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Cross Charitable Foundation, Mule Deer Foundation, SITKA Gear, Cinnabar Foundation, onX, Travelers for Open Land, The Ott Family, Lisa and Keith Reed, Kainz Family Foundation, Margaret and Ken Emerson, Pope & Young Club, Liza and Cody Abbott, Mara and Thomas Lehrman, Zaniboni Lighting, Cathy Costakis, Alan Larson, and Caroline and Will Price.