New Players, New Partners

By Beacon Staff

It’s not often Flathead County residents can open the New York Times and read what have become common household names in the valley: Gov. Brian Schweitzer, Plum Creek Timber, and Bill Foley.

In the second of a series of articles looking at changing demands on federal owned lands in the West, reporter Kirk Johnson published a story this weekend highlighting land use in Montana, specifically the Flathead Valley. As timberlands continue to open up, Johnson highlighted new key players in land use and some interesting – and unexpected – partnerships.

Whitefish Mountain Resort owner Bill Foley is profiled as one of “a new wave of investors and landowners across the West who are snapping up open spaces as private playgrounds on the borders of national parks and national forests.” The source of many of these open lands is a timber industry in steep decline, cashing in on thousands of acres.

Perhaps the most interesting angle of Johnson’s story is the growing partnership between timber companies and conservationists, two groups that in the state’s history have had a less than amiable relationship.

While many Montanans may cringe at the changes chronicled in Johnson’s piece, the article is worth a read.

Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.