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Gallatin County commissioners on Tuesday unanimously approved pursuing a 640-acre, $582,400 conservation easement off Axtell Anceny Road west of Bozeman.

Maynard and Eileen Flikkema have owned the land named “Section 35” for more than three generations, the Flikkemas wrote in a letter encouraging commissioners to approve the easement.

Located where three springs merge to form Camp Creek, the property is prime agricultural land with 12 acres of riparian habitat. It hosts wildlife and was a favored Native American campsite, as indicated by fire rings and other artifacts found there, said Peter Brown, Gallatin Valley Land Trust stewardship manager.

The family has farmed and ranched on the property for 120 years. The property is adjacent to state land and within seven miles of 12 other conservation easements, he added.

The Flikkemas appear eager to conserve their farm with a primitive cabin still standing on a scenic ridge.

“It is our desire to protect our family farm with this special water source, the wildlife and the natural beauty of this property from future developments,” the Flikkemas wrote.

The preliminary appraised value of the property, if it is developed, is $1.66 million. But the value decreases to $1.08 million if an easement is granted, Brown said.

The difference of about $582,400 will be the easement purchase price. The Flikkemas would retain the property with easement restrictions.

GVLT asked the county to contribute $174,720 for the easement from the open lands fund, a request unanimously approved recently by the Open Lands Board. GVLT will seek the rest of the money through a federal grant from the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program, Brown said.

Commissioners Steve White and Joe Skinner approved the measure with Bill Murdock absent.

“To me, it seems like a good value,” Skinner said.

Jodi Hausen can be reached at or 582-2630. Follow her on Twitter @JodiHausen.

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