County Commissioners Consider Funding Conservation Easements - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

County Commissioners Consider Funding Conservation Easements

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BOZEMAN -

Gallatin Valley Land Trust is asking county commissioners to use funds from open lands to help preserve two pieces of land in the county.

But, the land will still be private property.

The Gallatin Valley Land Trust is asking county commissioners to use $226,600 from the open land bond fund to pay for part of the value of two conservation easements.

GVLT executive director Penelope Pierce said in conservation easements land owners agree not to develop their property.

"They are giving up their rights to subdivide their property, we take those rights," said Pierce. "They continue to own their land and fee. They can sell it as they want, they can give it to their children, that doesn't change."

Pierce says they've used the open land bond fund on similar projects since the bond was created in 2000.

"There's about three million dollars left," Pierce said. "We've used the bond money before to help purchase conservation easements."

One 193 acre easement is along the Madison River.

The other 640 acres is off Axtell Anceney Road west of Four Corners.

Pierce said both are rich farmlands.

"They're important for the agricultural heritage of our community, they are also important for the wildlife habitat, and they are also important for the scenic and open space values that people value so much in the state of Montana," said Pierce.

Pierce said the conservation easement on these lands doesn't mean they're opened up for public use. That's because the land owners still own the property.

"It doesn't mean the public can come hunt on it unless you allow them to," said Pierce.  "It is completely up to you."

She said both land owners plan to keep using their land for agriculture.

The commissioners are expected to make their decision at Tuesday's meeting.

The county commissioner meeting is at 9 a.m.  in the Gallatin County Courthouse on Main Street.

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