Time Running Out For Key Conservation Program That Benefits Montana

November 18, 2010

Hauser Lake

Girls coming ashore on Hauser Lake.  Photo courtesy Bureau of Land Management.

The Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act (FLTFA) provides funding for land conservation at Hauser Lake and Centennial Valley and could fund more projects

Helena, MT — An innovative land conservation program in the West has helped preserve Montana’s scenic, historic and recreational places, including the recent preservation of land at Hauser Lake near Helena and in the Centennial Valley in southwestern Montana, and it has the potential to do more, but it is set to end in July 2011 if Congress does not reauthorize it.

The Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act (FLTFA) is a balanced approach to land conservation that allows agencies to purchase top priority projects within designated areas for outdoor recreation, historic preservation and wildlife conservation in the West. FLTFA is not an earmark program, but instead uses the sale of non-strategic Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands to generate revenue for land conservation projects.

One of the most recent FLTFA successes, completed in July, is BLM’s acquisition of the Brown’s Gulch property overlooking Hauser Lake, a boating and recreation area on the Missouri River, traveled by Lewis and Clark during their epic journey west. BLM’s Chain of Lakes Special Recreation Management Area (SRMA) surrounds the property, with a small portion bordering Helena National Forest.

“These acquisitions are important for a number of reasons,” said Rick Hotaling, district manager for the BLM’s Western Montana District. “They help protect our open spaces and the viewshed from potential subdivision development on this stretch of Hauser Lake. They also maintain or improve vital wildlife habitat, enhance public recreation opportunities within the Missouri River corridor and consolidate public lands by reducing private inholdings.”

The Conservation Fund purchased the property while the BLM received the necessary funding to add them to Chain of Lakes SRMA. The Fund purchased the property from the three Marshall sisters, who inherited the property from their parents John and Phyllis Marshall. The sisters stated, “Our father enjoyed the outdoors and we spent a lot of time with him on the property taking hikes and so forth as we grew up. As a legacy to our parents and family, we decided to sell the property to The Conservation Fund such that the public could also have the opportunity to enjoy the open space and outdoor activities that the property has to offer.”

This project builds on The Conservation Fund’s larger efforts with the BLM to preserve land within the Chain of Lakes SRMA and along the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, including the preservation of the 2,200 acre Ward Ranch in 2004 and the completion of a five-year effort to protect the 5,500-acre Iron Mask Ranch in 2007. The Fund is also currently working with BLM to preserve the 5,600-acre McMaster Ranch.

The Montana congressional delegation has shown leadership in supporting the FLTFA program, which is similar to Senator Baucus’ Canyon Ferry National Recreation Act and complements the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). LWCF recently funded another Brown’s Gulch project at Chain-of-Lakes SRMA. “Montana is the greatest place on earth because of its wild and pristine places, and thanks to the incredible folks who work together to act as stewards of our outdoor treasures,” said Sen. Max Baucus. “I’ve worked hard to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund to protect areas like the land along the Lewis and Clark Trail, so that Montanans can enjoy it for generations to come.”

“Through our partnership driven approach, The Conservation Funds has helped to protect approximately 15,000 acres of critical lands along the Missouri River corridor east of Helena,” said Gates Watson, Montana director of The Conservation Fund. “These lands are now a part of the public trust and will forever be a part of America’s land legacy.”

“These lands greatly enhance the quality of life here in Lewis & Clark County and protect the historical legacy of our county’s namesakes,” said Lewis & Clark County Commissioner Derek Brown. “Through the FLTFA program, we’ve been able to bring important conservation funding to our county, allowing us to conserve our natural heritage and expand recreational opportunities for visitors and residents.”

FLTFA provides benefits to local economies through BLM sales because ranchers, farmers and other businesses can expand their operations. Local economies also benefit from FLTFA acquisitions, which often provide access for boating, fishing and camping and other recreation or protect key natural resources and historical sites that benefit the community. Over 80 groups support FLTFA reauthorization, including many hunting, fishing, multiple use and conservation groups.


About The Conservation Fund
At The Conservation Fund, we combine a passion for conservation with an entrepreneurial spirit to protect your favorite places before they become just a memory. A hallmark of our work is our deep, unwavering understanding that for conservation solutions to last, they need to make economic sense. Top-ranked, we have protected more than 7 million acres across America.