One of the Biggest Gifts You Can Give Yourself, Your Family, and Your Community
Valerie Beebe is a nurse practitioner in pediatrics with a big heart. She is the type of person who
on Christmas Eve adopted a senior dog from Flathead County Animal Shelter that was least likely to find a home to add to her plethora of pets. She pours her heart into her land as well as a good steward of her forest and to the wildlife that use it.
In 2011, Valerie placed a conservation easement on her 28-acre property near Kila.Valerie purchased 3 acres of her land bordering the 1,100-acre Smith Lake Waterfowl Production Area west of Kalispell in 2001 and two years later an adjacent 25 acres that became available. The 28-acre property has mature ponderosa pine, western larch and Douglas fir forests interspersed with open meadows containing abundant native bunchgrasses, shrubs, and other native plants including a variety of wildflowers. These upland meadows and forests provide excellent wildlife habitat for white-tailed deer, elk, moose, black bear, mountain lion, coyote, fox and many species of birds, small mammals, and reptiles and amphibians.
“I fell in love with the beauty of the forest”, said Valerie. She wanted to make her forest healthy and a productive home for wildlife so she took courses through the Montana State University Forestry Extension program to learn more about stewarding the land. In 2006, the property became a certified American Tree Farm, named Birdsong Tree Farm. This enabled Valerie to obtain funding to plant hundreds of trees on the property to replace the mature forest as needed. She has also obtained grants for planting berry-producing shrubs for wildlife and noxious weed management. Valerie has planted over 1,000 native trees and shrubs on her property and has installed 40 bird houses, 16 beehives, and 2 bat boxes. She is also rejuvenating and protecting a small aspen grove on the property by removing conifers and adding fencing to guard against browse damage.
Valerie dedicated her conservation easement to her parents, Emmett R. & Lorraine M. Beebe. The easement was completed on her late father’s birthday which meant a lot to her as he helped her acquire the property.
Valerie hopes to share her enthusiasm for her land with others including
school children in the future by starting to do educational programs and involve them with the bird boxes and planting trees. “I think it’s important to let people know about land trusts. Understanding what a conservation easement is, is
important. It [the conservation easement] is one of the biggest gifts you can give to yourself, your family and your community.”