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Letter: Leaving a legacy for future generations

| January 21, 2009 11:00 PM

Dear Editor:

In 2009, we have a unique opportunity to protect an important part of Montana’s landscape by supporting the Montana Legacy Project.

This project is a land conservation purchase agreement between Plum Creek Timber Co., the Trust for Public Land and The Nature Conservancy that will protect some 312,000 acres of land in the Swan, Blackfoot and Fish Creek drainages in northwest Montana. 

Over the past 30 years, The Montana Land Reliance has, with the use of conservation easements, helped private property owners protect more than 800,000 acres of land. In the Swan Valley alone, MLR has worked with private landowners to complete 30 conservation easements protecting 5,357 acres of historically and ecologically significant land. 

In 2000, in conjunction with other groups and in response to the reorganization of Plum Creek from a timber company to a real estate investment trust, The Montana Land Reliance was asked to participate in the Swan Lands Coordinating Committee.

This committee, which included local community members, nonprofit conservation groups, and public agencies, was coordinated with the Swan Ecosystem Center in Condon. The role of The Montana Land Reliance in the committee process was to focus on private land conservation.

While the majority of land involved in the Montana Legacy Project will transfer to either the U.S. Forest Service or the State of Montana, some lands will remain in private ownership. Involvement of the Montana Land Reliance would be limited to those lands that will be privately held.

The Montana Legacy Project embodies the spirit of our state – people with diverse backgrounds  and viewpoints, coming together for the common good. The Legacy Project is not perfect – nothing is. But taken as a whole, the Montana Legacy Project represents a unique opportunity for Montana’s current and future generations.

Let’s not pass it up.

Carol Bibler, Montana Land Reliance Board of Directors, Kalispell