Conservation easement protects 300-acre Gooch Hill property from development

By Helena Dore, Bozeman Daily Chronicle Staff Writer

September 22, 2022

The Gallatin Valley Land Trust has finalized its 122nd conservation easement with the Bos family, permanently protecting their 300-acre farm along Gooch Hill Road from future development.

The agreement guarantees that the tract of land won’t get fragmented into smaller parcels, regardless of who owns it in the future, according to GVLT Lands Program Manager Chad Klinkenborg.

It also means that any future commercial use of the property must be agricultural, and only two residences can exist on the land. Those buildings must be confined to a 5-acre area, Klinkenborg said.

“The Bos family is so passionate about this land and passing their legacy onto the next generation of Bos farmers,” he said in a news release. “The agricultural, scenic, wildlife, and historical values that dominate the Gooch Hill area are unparalleled in the Gallatin Valley.”

Ron and Janice Bos have farmed in the Gallatin Valley since 1965, but they bought their 300 acres on Gooch Hill from the Hanks family in 2002. Around the same time, they founded Bos Hay and Grain with their son Craig.

The family grows hay, grain, wheat, barley and canola on thousands of acres of leased land in the valley. The company employs 10 people year-round and 10 to 15 people seasonally during harvest, according to GVLT.

Klinkenborg said the conservation easement was part of greater generational transfer. Ron and Janice are retiring from farming, and Craig and his wife Allison are taking over the family business. They’ve purchased the Gooch Hill property.

“Farms are only as good as the people working for them, and we have good people,” Ron said in the news release. “I’m only a steward of the land for a little while. Then the next generation comes along.”

The Gooch Hill property is an important part of the Bos family’s history and legacy, and they wanted to see it conserved so future generations could farm it. The easement was the Gallatin Valley Land Trust’s 122nd.

“It feels really great. This is such an important line of work right now in their period of growth we’re seeing in the Gallatin Valley and southwest Montana,” Klinkenborg said. “There’s no more important work to be done than to protect the integrity of this place we love so much.”

Together, the Gallatin Valley Land Trust and Montana Land Reliance have signed 16 conservation easement deeds with landowners on Gooch Hill, protecting over 3,400 acres of land in the area.

It’s an area on the periphery of Bozeman that should be protected from sprawl, for its high-quality soils, beautiful scenery, agricultural heritage and abundant wildlife, according to Klinkenborg.

Upland birds, whitetail deer, raptors and small mammals inhabit the area, and a burgeoning herd of elk circles the hill, he said. People who travel along Johnson, Enders, South 19th and Cottonwood Roads will benefit from seeing the open space preserved.

“Conserving the working farms that remain is a tangible way to honor this landscape’s rich agricultural heritage while guiding sustainable development and shaping our valley’s future,” Klinkenborg said in the release.

“The easement was a tool for our family succession planning,” Craig said. “We are thankful for the opportunity to continue agriculture in the Gallatin Valley.”

Read the original article here.