Three new conservation easements have been approved by the Gallatin County Commission to better preserve the rivers in the valley. (What are conservation easements? Click here to read more) The three properties that were granted easements will all end up protecting different sections of either the Gallatin or Madison river.
As more people move to the Gallatin Valley and as more open spaces are filled, oftentimes agricultural land will be lost. Conservation easements help protect the open spaces from sub-development in the future.
One easement for a 185 acre farm along the Gallatin River will now help protect the river for its wild and human visitors. Conservation easements represent a very modern dilemma between economic prosperity and environmental and agricultural conservation. On this particular 185 acre farm, if, in the future, the owner decides to sell the property, it will be worth around $665,000 dollars less than without the easement. But the easement protects the land from subdivision for all subsequent owners, hence the dilemma.
Another easement was granted on the Madison River for a 188 acre property. More than half of the property is floodplain so its very useful to a high number of bird species.
Finally, an 86 acre property along the East Gallatin River will receive a conservation easement. The commission did not have to approve a grant for the easement, because the owner was able to absorb the lost monetary value of the easement, and take a one time tax credit on the loss.
It is nice to see the Gallatin County, and the landowners living in it, have a concern for future development and growth of the area. So long as city and county leaders think ahead and continue to provide easements for important areas in the valley, they should be able to maintain a balance between the area’s growth and maintaining what makes Montana truly special.