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"We had outstanding grant applications that truly demonstrate the quality and diversity of land trust conservation projects across the state,” said Mike Scholz, owner of Buck’s T-4 Lodge and founder of the Travelers program. “Funds donated by Montana travelers and others are protecting the reasons we live here and why most people travel to Montana – to experience the open lands, view wildlife and recreate on private and public lands."
"These grant awards are impressive accomplishments, considering we’re talking about a new program that was created in a down economy and depends on small donations,” said Stuart Doggett, executive director of the Montana Innkeepers Association. “Travelers has a ways to go to reach its potential, but the grants are proof the program’s off to a great start.”
“The grants demonstrate the potential importance of the Travelers program, and also highlight the need for increased donations through the program,” said Kris Hauck, owner of the El Western Cabins & Lodges in Ennis. “People come to Montana and come to Ennis to enjoy the open lands, and it’s the open lands that will keep bringing people back. Travelers for Open Land is good for the landscape and it’s also good for business.”
“The great thing about Travelers for Open Land is that it gives people an opportunity to help protect what makes Montana such a great place to live in and visit,” said Scholz. “It’s the only statewide program of its type in the nation, it’s completely voluntary and the donations can add up to have a tremendously positive impact.”
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2014 Projects We Funded
Travelers for Open Land Awards $21,500 in Grant Funds To Five Land Trusts in Missoula, Bozeman, Hamilton, and Sandpoint, Idaho,
Travelers for Open Land, a collaborative program that allows Montana visitors and residents to make voluntary contributions to conserve open land, recently awarded $21,500 to fund five Montana private land conservation projects.
Travelers for Open Land was launched in 2009 and since then has awarded more than $200,000 to help fund 30 land conservation projects throughout Montana. Among TFOL supporters are the Montana Lodging and Hospitality Association, Montana Association of Land Trusts, Montana Community Foundation, the Montana Office of Tourism, other tourist-related and outdoor recreation businesses and the traveling public.
“Tourism is a major economic force in Montana, and Travelers for Open Land helps conserve an asset essential to tourism: open land,” said Mike Scholz, founder of Travelers for Open Land, former owner of Buck’s T-4 Lodge and a hospitality industry leader. Mike led the award process and complimented the quality and diversity of the grant applications.
Here is a brief summary of the five projects approved for funding by the Travelers for Open Land Advisory Committee:
Bitter Root Land Trust - $5,000 - To help fund a 209-acre conservation easement on the historic Bailey Farm in Ravalli County. The project enjoys strong local support, conserves important agricultural soils and elk and trophy mule deer habitat, and will also assist the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Agricultural Land Easement program.
Gallatin Valley Land Trust - $5,000 - To help fund the 712-acre conservation easement on the Braaksma Farm in the Gallatin Valley. The project opens up options for additional conservation projects on the property, and conserves important agricultural soils, local farming and iconic open space in the Gallatin Valley. It will also assist the NRCS Agricultural Land Easement program.
Five Valleys Land Trust - $4,000 - To help acquire the upper 160 acres of the Marshall Mountain property in Missoula. Marshall Mountain is a former downhill ski area now noted for its mountain bike racing and outdoor recreational opportunities. The plan is for Five Valleys Land Trust to own the property and transfer it to the City of Missoula to continue the economic and recreational benefits of the property.
The Vital Ground Foundation - $4,000 - To help fund a 240-acre conservation easement on Ellis Mountain, near the convergence of the Ninemile and Clark Fork Valleys. The property provides important habitat for grizzly bears and other wildlife species, and would mark the 200th conservation easement in Missoula County.
Kaniksu Land Trust - $3,500 - To help fund a 90-acre conservation easement on the Hanson property in the Clark Fork Valley. The project would conserve open space, local farmlands and a wildlife connectivity area. The project will also showcase the benefits of private land conservation to the local community.