The Flathead Land Trust on Tuesday closed a 200-acre conservation easement on property owned by the family of the late George Darrow, a well-known civic leader and conservationist from Bigfork.
The property is an old homestead north of Bigfork and contains natural habitat for grizzly bears, fishers and a variety of birds designated as “species of concern” by Montana.
The easement permanently protects the land from most types of commercial development, including surface-disturbing activities such as mining operations. It restricts future subdivision of parcels to only one split.
Darrow, who died last year at age 90, was widely known as a champion of conservation measures. As a long-serving state legislator, he sponsored the Montana Water Policy Act in 1967 and helped craft the landmark Montana Environmental Policy Act in 1971.
His family donated the easement to the land trust.
“As an ongoing tribute to George Darrow, his children Roy, Karen and Reed Darrow are honored to finalize a conservation easement on the family farm near Bigfork, in conjunction with Flathead Land Trust,” the family said in a statement. “We feel a conservation easement honors our father’s endeavors to protect and conserve open space, offer wildlife habitat and encourage agricultural enterprise in the Flathead Valley.”
Ryan Hunter, a land protection specialist with the Flathead Land Trust, said he was honored to help the Darrow family extend his conservation legacy in the Flathead Valley.
“We’d like to express our gratitude to the Darrow family,” he said. “It’s a beautiful piece of property, and we’re happy to see it conserved.”
The family and land trust had been working on an additional 471-acre easement on the same property, but Hunter said they have since put plans for that easement on hold.
Wednesday’s deal was completed with a grant from Travelers for Open Land, an organization that helps to fund conservation projects throughout Montana.
Reporter Sam Wilson can be reached at 758-4407 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.