Trout Creek Farm Conserved
As development continues to soar in the Gallatin Valley, so does the number of acres conserved forever in partnership with the Gallatin Valley Land Trust. 267 acres of beautiful open land northeast of Belgrade now joins 123 conserved properties totaling over 61,000 acres, 95 square miles. The Trout Creek farm is located in GVLT’s East Gallatin River strategic focus area and is nestled in between two existing conservation easements, adding to a large block of contiguous land that will never be developed. The significance of the East Gallatin River corridor is clear to the naked eye. Lush areas along the river and creeks are home to a plethora of birds and other wildlife. The landowners regularly spot eagles, sandhill cranes, hawks, and great horned owls. While the river corridor provides exceptional wildlife habitat, the agricultural value of the area is equally as significant.
The land, and the family, have deep roots in the Gallatin Valley. The landowner’s great grandfather came out west in the 1880’s and first homesteaded south of the interstate between Bozeman and Belgrade. Being a cattle rancher, the good wet ground off Penwell Bridge Road was appealing for its grass. He bought the property in 1902 and ran purebred short horn cattle until just after World War 2. The next generations ranched and farmed the property over the next century. While this land is open, it is certainly not empty. Over the years this ground (and its thoughtful stewards) has been busy raising livestock like cattle, pigs, goat, and sheep and eventually growing wheat, barley, oats, and hay. At one point the family grew peas, a popular crop in the valley that supported the Bozeman Canning Company, now known as the Cannery District. In 1912, the cannery produced more than 75% of the nation’s peas, rightfully giving Bozeman the nickname of the ‘Pea Capital of the Nation’ according to the Cannery District website.
Many Gallatin Valley residents will recognize the Trout Creek Farm’s red barn, one of the largest in the valley and still standing proud to this day. After 120 years, the big red barn needs some tender love and care. The family intends to invest some of the proceeds from the conservation easement into repairing and restoring the barn. Funding for this conservation easement was made possible by the Gallatin County Open Lands Program, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and a generous donation by the landowner.
Thanks to the family’s generous partnership with GVLT, their simple hope for the future of the farm is certain. ‘We hope for it to be basically the way it is.’ That’s good news for the animals, good news for the rich soil and crops growing year after year, and good news for the community who will continue to see and appreciate the breathtaking wide-open spaces of the Gallatin Valley.