A 7,068-acre conservation easement in Trumbull Creek north of Columbia Falls was given a final signature of approval last week. Add that to the 3,022 acres in nearby Haskill Basin protected in a similar transaction last fall, and it equals a win-win for the entire Flathead Valley.
The easement permanently bans commercial and residential development while still allowing historical uses for forestry work and recreation. State and federal partners jointly funded the $9.5 million transaction, and F.H. Stoltze Land & Lumber Co. made a donation of land value.
In short, this deal ensures that these lands will look the same 100 years from now as they do today. Locals will continue to have access to a bounty of hiking, hunting and fishing opportunities, and Stoltze will continue to manage the land for sustainable forestry.
The deal will also help ensure a healthy habitat for endangered species that call the Trumbull Creek corridor home, including grizzly bears, Canada lynx and westslope cutthroat trout. Not to be overlooked, the area is also home to the popular Flathead Family Forestry Expo and the Ravenwood Outdoor Learning Center, both of which will continue to use the property for educational tours and workshops.
Conserving open and wild spaces like Trumbull Creek is an important piece of keeping the Flathead a desirable place to live, work and play. This easement does exactly that without costing taxpayers a dime or infringing on common-sense forestry. Like we said, itís a win-win for everyone.