Oliver Family Conserves 549 Acres in Gooch Hill Area

Driving southwest of Bozeman on your way to Gallatin Gateway or to the South Cottonwood Trail is a special Montana experience. Just minutes from town the landscape opens up into a picturesque foreground of rolling hills of barley, wheat and alfalfa with sweeping mountain vistas of the Spanish peaks in the background. This undeveloped and highly productive soil has been growing crops and supporting farming families for generations. The Gooch Hill Area is rich with natural resources, habitat, scenic views and agricultural heritage. It’s also dangerously close to a quickly growing urban center and at risk of fragmentation, creating challenges for agriculture and critical wildlife habitat.

In September GVLT  and the very generous Oliver Family completed a conservation easement of the 549 acre farm, extinguishing the development rights on the property in perpetuity. Thanks to the family’s vision and commitment to agriculture, the conservation values of the land including the soils, habitat, and scenic views will be protected forever.

The Oliver family has owned the 549-acre property since the early 1920’s. It has been in agricultural production since it was homesteaded in 1890. The farm consists of irrigated hay and cropland (barley, wheat, and alfalfa) and limited grassland. The Oliver farm also has excellent soils and water, mapped as 95% prime and important soils by the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). It is one of the largest agricultural properties remaining in the Gooch Hill Agricultural Neighborhood. The property is predominantly surrounded by working farms, however development is rapidly moving toward the area from Bozeman and Four Corners. There are eleven other GVLT conservation easements that fall within five miles of the Oliver Farm. The conservation easement substantially enhances the viability of agricultural operations and keeps the highly scenic landscape open. This project was partially funded by the Gallatin County Open Lands Program which was recently renewed by Gallatin County voters in June of 2018.  This local funding was matched with federal dollars from the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and landowner donated value at a rate of 10 to 1.

As the Bozeman area continues to grow, GVLT is partnering with families in the Gooch Hill area who are using voluntary conservation easements to protect large blocks of land, ensuring viability for traditional family farming operations far into the future. Thank you to the Oliver family for their partnership and vision in keeping this place special for generations to come.