A $9.5 million, 7,068-acre conservation easement has been finalized for the Trumbull Creek area north of Columbia Falls, the Trust for Public Land and the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Park announced Feb. 3.
The land-use agreement for the property, owned by Stoltze Land & Lumber Co., permanently bars commercial and residential development, while allowing timber management and public recreational use to continue. Stoltze contributed to the cost of the easement by donating a portion of the land value. The majority of the $9.5 million came from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, Forest Legacy Program and Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund.
The easement complements 3,000 acres protected at Haskill Basin, where a similar conservation easement was secured in 2016.
“The drainages and surrounding forests provide very important habitat for a variety of fish and wildlife species, including many rare and sensitive species, all of which will benefit from this project. We appreciate the Stoltze family, the public, and all partners for their support,” said Jim Williams, regional supervisor of Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks.
The Stoltze family has established a legacy of creating forestry jobs in Flathead County for more than 100 years, pursuing the conversation easement to ensure that the property would continue in the historic land uses that have served the company well.
“The Trumbull Creek conservation easement is a win-win for everyone, just like the adjacent easement in Haskill Basin. The Stoltze family is very proud to continue sustainably managing the forests on these lands and allowing the traditional recreational uses, while protecting the land from future development,” said Chuck Roady, vice president and general manager of Stoltze.