Good deed on Good Creek

Couple donates conservation easement to land trust

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Carol and Dick Nelson stand outside their home on Thursday in rural Olney. The Nelsons have put 301 acres of their land under a conservation easement.

An Olney area couple have signed off on a conservation easement covering 301 acres along Good Creek.

“I would like the place to remain the way it is,” said Dick Nelson, who along with his wife, Carol, approved the easement with the Flathead Land Trust. “I couldn’t stand the thought of it being broken up into 20-acre ranchettes. It’s pretty wild and a haven for wildlife and I would like to think it would stay that way for perpetuity.”

The Nelsons purchased the property in 1969, after he noticed an “out of place” advertisement for a remote Montana property in Hollywood’s entertainment-industry newspaper, Daily Variety.

Dick Nelson was a television writer for a wide range of shows over his career, including “Wagon Train,” “Dynasty,” “Falcon Crest,” “TJ Hooker,” “Murder She Wrote” and “Jake and the Fatman.”

“I did that for about 30 years, and that’s why I was reading Daily Variety,” he said.

He had previously been hunting in Montana and was interested in purchasing a future retirement place. The property on Good Creek was perfect, and the Nelsons moved there full-time when he retired in 1988.

“I love the place and so do my wife and kids,” he said.

Good Creek cuts through about a mile and a half of the land covered by the easement, which is surrounded by Flathead National Forest lands. Nelson describes it as a “deer factory” that supports a wide variety of other wildlife.

“Everything you can name, they pretty much got it,” said Brad Seaman, who worked with the Nelsons on behalf of the Flathead Land Trust. “It is just the most perfect property.”

Seaman said the Nelsons chose to donate the value of the easement to the Flathead Land Trust, which can be used as a “match” for an equal amount of grant funding from the North American Wetlands Conservation program. The Flathead Land Trust can apply the funding towards future conservation purchases or projects.

“It doubles the conservation value of their donated easement for the community,” Seaman said. “They didn’t have to give us permission to do that.”

The Nelsons preferred not to disclose the value of the easement.

Dick Nelson noted that the conservation easement is expected to provide his family with some tax benefits.

“I’m hoping it will avoid some of the estate taxes by going the way we went,” he said. “So it wasn’t all charity on our part.”

Reporter Jim Mann may be reached at 758-4407 or by e-mail at jmann@dailyinterlake.com

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