Montana Land Reliance, Gallatin Valley Land Trust, Yellowstone Forever receive portion of proceeds
By Jessianne Wright EBS Contributor
BIG SKY – The inaugural Wildlands Festival on Aug. 10 will celebrate Montana’s wild places and open spaces, with a portion of the proceeds going to benefit three of the state’s conservation organizations.
Acclaimed singer-songwriter Robert Earl Keen and country rock stars Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real will headline the event, while Montana Land Reliance, Gallatin Valley Land Trust and Yellowstone Forever will all receive recognition for their decades of conservation work in the area.
Montana Land Reliance is a state-wide organization that partners with landowners in order to protect open spaces, agricultural lands, and fish and wildlife habitat. This is a voluntary legal agreement between the landowner and MLR that prevents future development on the property for perpetuity. With offices in Big Sky, Bozeman and Bigfork, MLR is managed by a team of 14 full-time and 16 part-time staffers, as well as a board of 11 directors.
Beginning in 1978, MLR has grown its mission from a focus on river corridors to protective efforts for wildlife migration corridors and public land conservation. In four decades, MLR has conserved 1,046,701 acres across the state.
While MLR’s endeavors span the state, Bozeman-based Gallatin Valley Land Trust has honed it’s mission to protect lands in Gallatin, Park and Meagher counties, which includes Big Sky, Paradise Valley and Gallatin Valley.
GVLT was founded in 1990 by Bozeman resident Chris Boyd. “He had a lot of foresight in knowing this place was special and was going to change,” said EJ Porth, the organization’s communications and outreach director.
In addition to land conservation efforts, the 10-person GVLT team works to get people outside on public lands. Projects include easement acquisitions and trail development and maintenance.
“To me, as Montanans, we live in a really special ecosystem,” Porth said. “The land has a long history. We have to be really good stewards of that.
“It’s always been important but it’s threatened in a way it hasn’t been in the past,” she added, describing Gallatin County’s burgeoning growth. “Our job is to keep this place special as we grow.”