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NRCS grants conservation dollars to Gallatin Valley

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Nearly 600 acres of prime agricultural soil west of the Gallatin River was recently converted into a conservation easement through a partnership with the landowners and the Gallatin Valley Land Trust. This easement was funded in part by the NRCS and the Gallatin Valley Open Lands Program and a new $3.8 million grant by the NRCS will continue to support this type of stewardship in Gallatin Valley. NRCS PHOTO

EBS STAFF

BOZEMAN – The Natural Resources Conservation Service has recently renewed a commitment for land conservation in the Gallatin Valley. Through the service’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program, $3.8 million has been awarded to the Gallatin Valley Land Trust to fund conservation easements and land stewardship projects in the valley.

“NRCS has been a critical partner for conservation easements, providing funding to purchase conservation easements from willing landowners to conserve working lands, clean water and wildlife habitat in our rapidly growing valley,” GVLT communications and outreach director EJ Porth told EBS in an email. “GVLT is thrilled to continue focusing on the Gallatin Valley with such a committed partner.”

The majority of these federal dollars will go directly to farmers and ranchers actively working to conserve their open landscapes to protect water quality, maintain prime farmland and reduce urban sprawl.

GVLT first received the NRCS grant in 2015 and used the funds to acquire seven conservation easements that total over 2,600 acres, as well as complete six land stewardship projects.

“This focused partnership project has brought together the resources to conserve more open space and

address resource concerns on more acres in the Gallatin Valley than [NRCS or GVLT] could have done

individually,” said Tom Watson, NRCS state conservationist for Montana, in a press release.

The grant renewal creates a pool of money that is allocated on a project-by-project basis and funds stay within Gallatin Valley. This focused conservation effort targets land-use conversion and urban sprawl within a burgeoning Gallatin Valley, home to fertile soil and a deep agricultural heritage.

“At a time when the Gallatin Valley is facing unprecedented growth, this special allocation of funds will

increase the pace of conservation in the valley,” said GVLT program director Brendan Weiner in a press release. “Thank you to the NRCS for strategically allocating these funds to a place that is committed to

conserving its agricultural heritage and has a proven record of conservation success.”

Last year Gallatin Valley voters renewed the Gallatin County Open Lands Program, which provides local matching funds to the federal NRCS program.

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