Leaping for Joy with the New Leep Conservation Easement

July 16, 2021

We are excited to announce that we have completed our 118th conservation easement on the Leep Family Farm in the Gooch Hill Area, protecting the parcel from development and keeping it in agricultural production forever.

When you see the 514-acre Leep Family Farm, it is easy to imagine thousands of houses in place of the lush, green fields. The farm sits on a rolling bench in the Gooch Hill area, a stones throw from the Gallatin National Forest. There are 360-degree unobstructed views of the mountain ranges surrounding the Gallatin Valley, and the property is visible from Gooch Hill Road, Enders Road and South 19th Avenue. All of these factors make the Leep Family Farm highly developable, and an important addition to the conserved land in the Gooch Hill area.

When a landowner places a conservation easement on their property, they are transferring a real property right, their ability to develop or subdivide the property, to the land trust and therefore reducing the value of their land. The Leep Family Farm conservation easement was funded by the Gallatin County Open Lands Program, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Agricultural Land Easement Program, as well as a significant amount of value donated by the landowners. This is the fourth conservation easement the Leep Family has completed with the Gallatin Valley Land Trust.

“The Leep family has used funds received from prior conservation easements to enhance their family farming operation and conservation efforts,” said GVLT Lands Attorney Kristin How. “This project will allow the Leeps to purchase additional property in the Gooch Hill area. They hope to place a conservation easement on that property as well, bringing a multiplier effect to the public dollars invested in conservation in our valley. They are an incredible family, leaving a legacy of conservation in the Gallatin Valley.”

The Leep Farm boasts of high-quality agricultural soils, with 94% categorized as either prime soils or soils of statewide and local importance by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The Leep Family Farm, which operates as Leep Hay and Grain, LLC., produces hay and small grains, including spring wheat and barley.

This piece of land adjoins two other existing easements, creating a block totaling 1,313 conserved acres.  Not only is this an area of high agricultural production, but the protected land creates an important wildlife corridor for deer, elk, fox, eagles, and migratory songbirds.

“This ground should never grow houses,” said Sherwin Leep. “It should stay in agriculture. It is important that these properties are conserved now. This is the time. They won’t be here 50 years from now.”

The addition of the Leep Farm makes for 50,521 total conserved acres by GVLT. We would like to thank the Leep Family for their generosity and their amazing partnership with GVLT over the years.