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Throughout southwest Montana the landscape is emerging from winter and wildlife are bustling at the first signs of spring. Nesting eagles eye spawning trout in creeks and wobbling fawns wander through pastures alongside newly born calves. Just as you are excitedly dusting off your hiking boots, Gallatin Valley Land Trust (GVLT) staff are preparing for a busy season of visiting with over 100 families who have worked with GVLT to conserve over 50,000 acres throughout our region.

I’m guessing that many in our community don’t know much about the quiet yet impactful “stewardship” side of our conservation work. While you’re most likely to hear about GVLT and landowners partnering to conserve critical lands, the real estate transactions are just the start of a long relationships that ensure permanent protection and enhancement of the conservation values that define these properties and this region.

Here at the GVLT we utilize a tool known as a “conservation easement” to help landowners conserve their agricultural heritage, productive soils, wildlife habitat, scenic open views, and clean waterways on private land. Our focus on conserving private land reflects the unprecedented development threat facing our communities and ensures that wildlife and water can move more naturally through the increasingly complex matrix of private and public lands.

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Chet Work is the Executive Director of the Gallatin Valley Land Trust.

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