Two Churchill Projects Get the Green Light

In late September, GVLT presented two conservation easements to the Gallatin County Commission, seeking approval to use the last remaining funds from the Gallatin County Open Lands Bond,  approved by the voters in 2000 and 2004. GVLT coordinated with the Montana Land Reliance (MLR), who also sought funding for a conservation easement, to strategically maximize the limited dollars available. The Commissioners unanimously approved all three easements’ applications for funding, thus fully allocating the funding of the program.

Both of GVLT’s proposed conservation projects are partnerships with long time Gallatin Valley farming families in the Churchill area, west of Bozeman and Belgrade. Both projects are adjacent to other GVLT conserved lands and will contribute to a large, and growing, block of open land that will remain viable for agriculture into the future. The LF Dairy and Kamps Seed Farm projects are valuable because of their exceptionally productive soils, the families’ desires to continue agriculture in the area, the proximity of the properties to the Gallatin River and rapidly encroaching development, and the scenic benefits to the public from popular County roads.

The LF Dairy is a 588 acre property and has been a dairy farm since the early 1990’s. It has been owned and operated by multiple generations of the Flikkema family since 1955. The Kamps Seed Farm, 488 acres, is directly adjacent to the LF Dairy and other conserved lands. The Kamps family purchased the land in 1934 and the 5th generation is currently working on the farm.

This funding approval from the Gallatin County Commission is bittersweet. Both GVLT projects, and the MLR project, are significant for conservation. However, the approval of these projects mark the official ending to the funding stream from the Gallatin County Open Lands Bond which has provided critical dollars to advance open land protection in our area. Without a certain funding source going forward, there are challenges ahead to be able to conserve land alongside the ever growing pace of development.