Traversing the Lower Valley is a trip through Montana’s existential crisis.
Look right to see endless open fields framed by majestic, snow capped mountains. Look left at shimmering, brick McMansions protected by foreboding iron gates.
Look right to see a pair of white-tailed deer grabbing a snack, a bald eagle standing sentry and a flock of geese gliding in for a landing. Look left at the smiling faces of real estate agents, decorating enticing signs promoting “waterfront properties” now for sale.
But look right, too, to see the wavering world of agriculture. See farmers and their families making difficult choices, threatened by mass production and a sagging commodities market.
Then look left at the tourist dollars and the development dollars pumped into the community. Look left at the people who, by necessity, have pushed this land as a destination despite the objection of longtime residents, many of whom have been here for generations. Read More…
The Flathead Land Trust is working on a new project, one that will cement the idea that the wetlands of West Valley are for the birds. More specifically, the new project seeks to conserve a 400-acre section of family farmland important for 144 species of bird, with special focus on the sandhill cranes. According to FLT, more than 400 of these large, long-limbed birds have been seen at one time using a four-square-mile staging area to rest and fuel up for the rest of their fall migration. Read More…
February 12, 2016 – Latest Land Addition Boosts Protected Acreage on north shore (Flathead Beacon article)
A 77-acre slice of farmland and wildlife habitat along the north shore of Flathead Lake is gaining permanent protection by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. The conservation project is the latest section along the north shore to become permanently protected, bringing the total acreage up to 426 acres. The property will be part of the North Shore Wildlife Management Area, which consists of two other parcels already owned and managed by FWP. It sits next to the 1,887-acre Flathead Lake Waterfowl Production Area administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and conservation easements held on private land by Montana Land Reliance and Flathead Land Trust. Read More…
Nearly a year after his death at age 90, George Darrow’s legacy as a leading conservationist in the Flathead Valley continues to grow.
The Flathead Land Trust is nearing a deal for two conservation easements totaling 671 acres of land north of Bigfork that belonged to the well-known civic leader and conservationist. Read More…
December 18, 2015 – Congress Votes to Make Permanent the Tax Incentive for Conservation Easement Donations
Today, Congress made the tax incentive for conservation easement donations permanent! This is especially big news for farmers. Here is an explanation of what the Conservation Easement Tax Incentive is:
A landowner can claim a federal income tax deduction for the value of a donated easement — similar to other charitable donations. By keeping land as open space with a conservation easement (giving up the ability to residentially subdivide or use it for commercial purposes such as gas stations and department stores), landowners are giving up some of its value. The value of the easement is calculated by determining the difference in property value before and after the easement. The enhanced incentive allows landowners to realize more of the value of the deduction.
This Conservation Easement Tax Incentive:
- Raises the maximum federal income tax deduction a donor can take for donating a conservation easement from 30% of a their adjusted gross income (AGI) in any year to 50%
- Allows qualified farmers and ranchers to deduct up to 100% of their AGI
- Increases the number of years over which a donor can take deductions from 6 to 16 years
The tax incentive that was made permanent today was first established in 2006, but had expired at the end of 2014. In a strong bipartisan action, the Senate voted 65-33 today to pass the bill that will make the tax incentive for conservation easement donations permanent. This follows yesterday’s 318-109 vote in the House. Today’s vote also reauthorized the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) for three years and increased its funding from $306 million last year to $450 million this year.
The conservation achievements and leadership of Dr. Lex Blood and Mike Conner were recognized at the FLT holiday party and membership meeting on Thursday, December 3rd with the Flathead Land Trust Leadership Award. This is the second year the award has been given to recognize the conservation achievements, leadership, and incredible volunteer service individuals have given to the community through their work with Flathead Land Trust. Read More…
Over 300 acres of land important for birds and other wildlife was conserved in the Smith and Mission valleys this week as a result of two landowners partnering with Flathead Land Trust. The two conservation projects will ensure about 180 acres of wetlands and one and a half miles of streams will be protected as wildlife habitat in perpetuity as well as keeping valuable ranch land in farming. Read More…
Help us reach our goal of $10,000 in new donation support by the end of this year so we can develop and complete new conservation projects in 2016. Give before December 31st and your donation of new support will be MATCHED through the Sustainability Fund of the Flathead Community Foundation. Read More…
From the crowded Bay Area in Northern California, David Sowerwine and his wife, Haydi, last month retreated to a plot of land secluded near the north shore of Flathead Lake. For David, arriving at the quiet countryside was like traveling back in time to when he and his siblings spent a greater part of their youth in this rural acreage that their father, Owen, had acquired in the early 1950s.
The Sowerwine family farm encompasses 157 acres along the shores of Fennon Slough, a meandering channel of the Flathead River near its final destination in the expansive, pristine lake. The property includes one of the valley’s original homesteads, and historic log cabins still dot the empty landscape. Read More…
In July, people from across Montana and locally here in the Flathead are invited to observe the first ever Montana Open Land Month. Flathead Land Trust is partnering in this month-long celebration which offers a chance to reflect on all that open land represents: our agricultural heritage, vast outdoor recreational opportunities, clean water, diverse wildlife habitat, scenic splendor, tremendous economic benefits, a vibrant tourism industry, freedom to roam and so much more! Read More…
The Flathead Land Trust acknowledged the leadership and conservation achievements of Ken Siderius and Bill Dakin at their annual membership meeting on Sunday, December 7th with the Flathead Land Trust Leadership Award. This is the first year the award has been given to recognize the conservation achievements, leadership, and incredible volunteer service individuals have given to the community through their work with Flathead Land Trust.
“We are very pleased to honor Ken and Bill with the first-ever Flathead Land Trust award,” said Paul Travis, Flathead Land Trust Executive Director.
The Flathead Land Trust and its partners have received final approval on the $1 Million North American Wetlands Conservation Act grant to preserve wetland habitat for migratory birds in the Flathead and Mission Valleys. Click on the title for complete information
July 1, 2014 – WELCOME to our new Executive Director PAUL TRAVIS!!
Most recently, Paul was the director of development for the Glacier National Park Conservancy. Prior to that, he was the director of the Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation.
We’re excited to have him join us here at the Trust and we’re looking forward to his contributions to our organization.
Feel free to welcome Paul by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or to stop by our office at 33 2nd Street East, Kalispell, to welcome him in person. Paul brings over 14 years of nonprofit conservation and leadership experience to the position and holds a strong commitment to preserving our natural heritage, open space, and “way of life” in the Flathead for generations to come. Paul is the ideal person to provide the Flathead Land Trust with the strategic leadership necessary to insure the organization’s success into the future.
Paul has committed much of his professional career to nonprofit conservation work. His experience includes Director of Major Gifts for the Montana Environmental Information Center, both Program Director and Executive Director for the Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation, working for Chapter Services with the National Audubon Society, and most recently serving as the Director of Development for the Glacier National Park Conservancy.
Paul has been very involved in the community for many years through Leadership Flathead, Roundtable of the Crown of the Continent, Glacier Country Avalanche Center, and the Montana Conservation Corps.
June 30, 2014 – Conservation of 525 acres of migratory bird habitat approved with federal grant
Tens of thousands of migratory birds use the Flathead as a crucial feeding stopover in their epic journey south . . . Flathead Land Trust and its partners recently received approval by the North American Wetland Conservation Act (NAWCA) Council to fund a $1 million grant proposal to conserve some of these important wetlands and agricultural lands. Five projects were proposed to conserve 525 acres of wetlands and associated uplands and restore 125 acres of wetland habitat used by migratory birds in the Flathead and Mission valleys. These projects include adding wetlands to the Smith Lake Waterfowl Production Area, increasing protection of the north shore of Flathead Lake by adding to the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Wildlife Management Area, helping the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes protect wetlands along the Mission Mountain Front, protecting wetlands just east of the National Bison Range, and restoring a wetland/spring creek complex east of Columbia Falls.
Upon final approval by the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission and an approved Federal budget for 2015, the partners will implement these important migratory bird habitat conservation projects. The projects funded by this grant will continue the work of Flathead Land Trust and the Flathead River to Lake Initiative, a landscape-scale, collaborative effort to conserve critical lands along the north shore of Flathead Lake and the Flathead River.
Read more in our Featured Projects section.
Feb. 2014 – Important HABITAT PROTECTED on north shore of Flathead Lake
Flathead Land Trust initiated and helped facilitate the protection of 189 acres on the north shore of Flathead Lake. This project protects habitat important to thousands of migratory birds that use the North Shore as a resting stop on their trip between the southwestern United States and Canada. It also protects fragile water quality in Flathead Lake important to fisheries such as bull trout that use the lake along the North Shore. The 189 acres was purchased by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to add to their North Shore Wildlife Management Area with Bonneville Power Administration funds.
River to Lake Partners receive Wetland Stewardship Award (May 26, 2011)
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