The Bitter Root Land Trust is hoping to get your vote in their bid to win up to $25,000 as part of the Missoula Federal Credit Union’s latest charitable giving campaign. From June 1st through June 15, members of the Missoula Federal Credit Union (MCFU) can now select from eight local non-profits to win $50,000 in grants. The top three non-profits that receive the most votes will be awarded grants of $25,000, $15,000 and $10,000.
The Bitter Root Land Trust, the only non-profit from the Bitterroot to be nominated for the competition, partners with local landowners and community groups to conserve clean water, wildlife habitat and working farms and ranches.
According to Conservation Director Kyle Barber, the BRLT has helped place conservation easements on 6,228 acres in the valley using $4.2 million in voter-approved funds from the county’s Open Lands Bond Program.
In the Stevensville area alone (home to the Stevensville branch of the MFCU), 2,250 acres of open land on working ranches has been preserved from future development. Six conservation easements have been completed in the area and Barber said five more are in the works.
In recent years, BRLT has increased its focus on providing natural community amenities preserving both riparian habitat and public access to the Bitterroot River. As part of that focus, it has increased natural public recreation areas along the Bitterroot River that benefit residents, visitors, fisheries and wildlife in what is now Steve Powell Park, a 22-acre natural area along the Bitterroot River in Hamilton that is enjoyed by hikers, dog-walkers, anglers and local school children.
BRLT is also currently pursuing an opportunity to add another 70 acres and more than a mile of riverfront to Hamilton’s park portfolio. The land includes cottonwood groves and open grassy riverbanks, and abuts an existing 80-acre park, all of which comprise excellent habitat for a variety of wildlife. This project will protect a significant stretch of river frontage while adding substantial public access.
Members can vote in the Give Together charitable giving campaign at the Stevensville branch of MFCU or go online to www.missoulafcu.org/giving-together/.
The Bitter Root Land Trust is also hosting its second annual Land Trust Barn Dance on Saturday, June 30th at the Lazy Burnt Fork Ranch, on Middle Burnt Fork Road east of Stevensville.
“It’s going to be a great celebration,” said Development Director Lauren Rennaker. “We want to showcase a working ranch.”
There will be tours of the ranch, fishing for kids, music, and dinner, as well as a silent auction and raffle. She said only 250 tickets were printed and they were already half sold. To make reservations call 375-0956, or for full event details and to purchase tickets go to www.bitterrootlandtrust.org.