Fundraising Project Turns into Rare Author Collection

By Beacon Staff

When Doug Mitchell first started rounding up authors to take part in a Montana Land Reliance fundraiser, he figured he might get 10 to15 first-edition hardcover books, signed and personalized by the authors.

With the fundraiser coming up on Aug. 9, Mitchell is pleasantly surprised by the response he received – 50 authors have signed on to the project and contributed nearly 60 books to a one-of-a-kind Montana literary collection.

“One thing led to another and the author community is unbelievably generous,” Mitchell said. “This whole idea of open spaces is something they feel deeply about.”

The Montana Land Reliance is the largest fully accredited private land trust in the country, working exclusively in Montana. The trust holds nearly 800 conservation easements that protect almost 900,000 acres.

According to its website, the mission of the Montana Land Reliance is to “partner with landowners to provide permanent protection for private lands that are significant for agricultural production, forest resources, fish and wildlife habitat, and open space.”

The land trust is holding its major fundraising event of the year on Aug. 9 at Flathead Valley Community College. The fundraiser starts at 5:30 p.m. and is open to the public. Tickets cost $75 for adults and $50 for students, a price that includes dinner from the school’s “fabulous culinary program,” Mitchell said.

The night features an auction. Among the items to be auctioned are 12 paintings donated by Montana artists. The paintings will also be included in a 2013 Montana Land Reliance calendar.

But the centerpiece auction item will be the book collection. Each book is signed with inscriptions by the authors describing what open spaces mean to them. The authors all have Montana connections.

The list of authors includes Rick Bass, Richard Ford, Judy Blunt, Ivan Doig, Thomas McGuane, Carl Hiaasen, Tom Brokaw, William Kittredge and many more. Mitchell said dealers and collectors from around the country have already been inquiring.

The collection can be seen on display at Bookworks in Kalispell up until the Aug. 9 fundraiser.

“It’s become historic in a way,” Mitchell said. “I’m not sure if there’s a collection of living Montana authors who have gotten together and done this. It’s been a great journey.”