New Easements Funded with Levy: 5 Conservation Projects Get County Green Light
On Tuesday GVLT received approval from the Gallatin County Commission to access funds from the Gallatin County Open Lands Program to help purchase conservation easements on five properties throughout the Gallatin Valley. These conservation projects are the first to be approved with renewed funding from the Open Lands Levy which was passed by the voters of Gallatin County in June of 2018 (thank you!). Since 2000 the Open Lands Program has provided funds to acquire conservation easements which are legal agreements with willing landowners that limit development on their properties and protect the prime soils, clean water, healthy habitat and scenic views that mark our landscape.
Three properties received Level 1 approval for funding from the Gallatin County Commission, after unanimous support from the Open Lands Board. The Bos Dairy Farm is 221 acres in the Amsterdam/ Churchill area on Camp Creek Rd. It is adjacent to protected land and will ensure that agriculture remains viable in the area. The Bos Family has been farming in the valley for 75+ years and the proposed conservation easement will protect soils that support their dairy operation.
The Spring Family Farm conservation project is 313 acres located on Penwell Bridge Rd., less than 1 mile from the East Gallatin River north of Belgrade. The area is experiencing high development pressure and is located in an un-zoned area of the county. When completed, this easement will eliminate development potential on the property and protect the prime soils, scenic views, and habitat for elk, deer and sandhill cranes.
The Visser Ranch is 779 acres on the highly visible and scenic Norris Rd. It is within five miles of five other Open Lands Program funded easements. The family wants to protect the agricultural resources, elk winter range, and soils on the property. All three projects will leverage county dollars at a rate of 5 to 1, seeking matching funds from the Natural Resources Conservation Service and landowner donated value in development rights.
Two previously approved conservation easement projects, the LF Dairy and Kamps Seed Farm, were amended to receive additional funds due to rising real estate costs in the valley. Both properties fit like puzzle pieces into a large block of conserved land just west of the Gallatin River in the Churchill area.
The Gallatin Valley Land Trust partners with landowners to seek funding and ultimately hold conservation easements. Over the next several months we will continue pursuing additional funds and revisit the Gallatin County Open Lands Board and County Commission for final approval of funding.
Thank you to the landowners for generously donating a significant amount of property value when doing a conservation easement. And thanks to the community for approving renewed funding for the County Open Lands program. When we come together on projects like these, we can keep our valley scenic and open forever.