Conservation easement protects nearly 600 acres of farmland in Manhattan

Posted at 3:25 PM, Jul 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-25 17:43:09-04

MANHATTAN – Nearly 600 acres of land in Manhattan is now protected from development.

Montana is known for its big sky, beautiful land, and scenic views. As the Gallatin Valley continues to grow, it’s slowly losing some of its open space.

The Gallatin Valley Land Trust and the Flikkema Family recently completed a conservation easement to protect the farmland.

“Growth and population and even the Bozeman community are really expanding, and Belgrade, and they need a source for their food and where their food comes from,” Partner of the Flikkema Family Farm, Gary Flikkema said.

The conservation easement ensures that the land is never developed on and remains used for agriculture, wildlife, and scenic open views.

Conservation easements are voluntary agreements between GVLT and landowners that limit development on a property while keeping private ownership.

“They donated over half the value of the conservation easement to make this project happen. And then Gallatin County through utilizing funds from the levy that was passed in 2018 supplied funds as well, and then those funds were matched 10 to 1 by the NRCS and the family,” GVLT Lands Project Manager Kristin How said.

The three Flikkema brothers aren’t opposed to development but see the importance in protecting the land that has been in the family since 1955.

“Because we love the land and farming. It was kind of in our blood from when we were children,” Gary said.

“We are just so thrilled and thankful to the family for protecting this huge amount of land. They’re very passionate about this land that has been in their family for 70 years and so to keep it protected is such a gift to the residents here,” How said.

This is the first completed easement using the Gallatin County Open Lands Program, which received renewed funding last year from taxpayers.

Reporting by Emma Hamilton for MTN News