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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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2012 Projects We Funded
Travelers for Open Land Awards Over $88,000 in Grant Funds To Land Trusts in Missoula, Helena, Bozeman, Kalispell and Hamilton
Travelers for Open Land, a collaborative program that allows Montana visitors and residents to make voluntary contributions to conserve open land, enjoyed its best year ever in 2012 and recently awarded $88,365 to fund six Montana private land conservation projects.
Travelers for Open Land was launched in 2009 and since then has awarded $148,365 to help fund 20 land conservation projects throughout Montana. TFOL is a cooperative program and among the program 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.
“We had a very impressive group of grant applications this year, and were pleased to fully fund all six applications,” said Mike Scholz, founder of Travelers for Open Land, owner of Buck’s T-4 Lodge and a hospitality industry leader. “The projects we helped fund showcase excellent examples of Montana land conservation efforts and included wetlands protection, enhanced recreational access opportunities, conservation of historic and traditional working ranches, lakeshore protection at Flathead Lake, wildlife habitat protection and more.”
Here is a brief summary of the six projects approved for funding by the Travelers for Open Land Advisory Committee:
The Nature Conservancy of Helena received $20,000 to help fund a 580-acre conservation easement project in the Big Hole Valley. The project conserves a working ranch that includes a stream corridor containing arctic grayling.
Prickly Pear Land Trust received $18,365 to help fund a conservation easement and additional recreational access as part of the 266-acre Aspen Trails proposal in the North Helena Valley. The project enjoys significant local support, protects a wetland area and has several partners cooperating on the project.
Five Valleys Land Trust in Missoula will receive $15,000 to help fund a 2,278-acre conservation easement in the Mission Valley on the Flathead Indian Reservation. The project conserves an important wildlife corridor, valuable soils and a traditional working ranch.
PHOTO BY CATHERINE WALTERS
Gallatin Valley Land Trust in Bozeman will receive $15,000 to help fund a hiking trail and conservation easement project near Big Sky. The project features a large number of private and public partners and would expand outdoor recreational opportunities in Big Sky.
The Bitter Root Land Trust in Hamilton will receive $10,000 to help fund a conservation easement on a historic 1,080-acre ranch in the Bitterroot Valley. The project protects existing recreational access, enjoys local support and has a connection to noted Montana artist Charlie Russell.
Flathead Land Trust in Kalispell will receive a $10,000 grant to help fund a 190-acre conservation easement on the North Shore of Flathead Lake. The project features protection of wetlands and waterfowl habitat and is part of the Flathead’s River to Lake Initiative.