Jeff Krauss

Jeff Krauss

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What brought you to Gallatin County? What keeps you here? What keeps Gallatin County special? We can give you our answer and talk about why we support the open lands levy.

It’s the open spaces. Vistas of young calves in a green valley against white mountains, sights and smells in the valley of flowers, of earth fresh tilled or harvest ripening in hot sun. Following a forest trail with its rotting and growing verdure filling our senses. The river splashing and pooling, the whole watercourse full of fish and birds and bugs and animals big and small.

We, and you, valued open space and voted twice for open space. These ballot issues provided $20 million, which the County Open Lands Board leveraged 5 for 1, stretching our investment into $100 million dollars of open space. We preserved 50,000 acres (that’s 78 square miles!) of Gallatin County’s natural areas, ranches and wildlife habitat.

That’s an immediate return on investment of 500 percent. It’s an ROI that would make Warren Buffet blush. It’s also an investment that, right now, gets us up Chestnut Mountain and past Frog Rock, allows a quick walk or run in the Regional Park, lets us blaze trails up North Cottonwood. And as a long-term investment? The value of what we save today is without measure tomorrow.

But the money for the program has run out. To keep making these great investments we need your “yes” vote for the open lands levy.

There are practical reasons to vote “yes”. Money from the open lands levy can purchase development rights where land is hard or inappropriate to develop. This makes infrastructure planning more predictable, and focuses development where infrastructure is cheaper to build, saving taxpayer money in the long run.

The open lands levy allows coherent investments in wildlife corridors, winter range, calving grounds, and in large blocks of agricultural land. Preventing fragmentation protects critical habitat that saves wildlife habitat, protects rivers, and provides corridors where the big fauna still plays.

If you want good jobs for your children or grandchildren, invest in the open land that keeps our county special. The entrepreneurs that drive today’s economy will locate their businesses where they and their employees can enjoy an unparalleled quality of life. It’s the new economy for the next generations; commuting by wire and plane, hiring from our great high schools, Gallatin College and MSU, and paying national wages on a local scale.

We want to keep farming and ranching as a business and way of life in the Gallatin Valley. The open lands levy provides choices for landowners wanting to keep their land working in agriculture, and who want to pass on a legacy of clean water, abundant wildlife, and a western heritage.

Why another open lands effort now? Because Gallatin is the fastest growing county in Montana and the Bozeman area is the second fastest growing area its size in the U.S. The time to act is now. The cost is low, the value immeasurable. How do you value open lands? How do you value a national treasure? How do you value a way of life?

Yes, it’s a tax increase, but one that shows an exceptional track record of success. One that provides an ROI that would make Warren Buffet blush. One with no hidden costs that pays back immediate, and long-lasting value.

Your vote FOR the open lands levy helps preserve Gallatin County’s open spaces, working ranches and farms, wildlife corridors, and access to our special places. Please join us in voting “yes”.

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Jeff Krauss is a current Bozeman Commissioner and former Mayor, was the Gallatin County Treasurer/Assessor. He resides in West Bozeman. Carmen McSpadden served on the Gallatin County Planning Board, Chaired the Open Space Task Force and the first Open Lands Board. She is the director of the MSU Leadership Institute.

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