13,000 Acres of Timberlands Permanently Protected by Trust for Public Land
By Moosetrack Megan

Posted: May 16, 2024

Kalispell, MT – Trust for Public Land (TPL), in partnership with Green Diamond Resource Company (GDRC) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), today announced the permanent protection of 13,403 acres of working forest in Flathead and Lincoln Counties. The conservation easement is located within the Lost Trail Conservation Area and conserves outstanding wildlife habitat, ensures permanent public access, and allows for sustainable forestry.


“Safeguarding 13,000 acres within the Lost Trail Conservation Area, Trust for Public Land has not only preserved a slice of wild Montana, but we’ve secured a legacy for future generations, said Dick Dolan, Trust for Public Land’s Northern Rockies Director. “Each acre protected through this ongoing partnership with Green Diamond stands as a testament to our commitment to ensuring this remarkable landscape will remain undeveloped and accessible to all Montanans.”

This is the second conservation easement within the Lost Trail Conservation Area, which was established in 2022, resulting in over 51,400 acres conserved so far. The Lost Trail Conservation Area designation provides the opportunity to conserve up to 100,000 acres using conservation easements through collaboration with landowners and other partners.


“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is excited to add another high resource parcel into the Lost Trail Conservation Area. Ensuring the layered public benefits while staying in private ownership as working timberland, this project represents a win for the local communities that rely on the timber industry, public land users, and conservation,” said Ben Gilles, Western Montana Refuge Complex Project Lead for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.


The newly conserved 13,403-acre property lies just south and west of the Lost Trail National Wildlife Refuge and connects to other public and conserved private lands, ensuring that the high-quality wildlife habitat and outstanding recreational opportunities will remain in the future. FWS will hold the conservation easement on the property, and GDRC will continue to own and manage the land going forward. This arrangement ensures a continued timber supply to the wood products industry, which has been affected by closures over the past few months.


Conserving working private lands is vital, as it not only sustains good-paying jobs but ensures the health of forests and the stability of the wood products economy, underpinning the well-being of Montana’s communities.


The property is also an important movement corridor for wide-ranging species including grizzly bear between the Northern Continental Divide and Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystems. This conservation easement is key in keeping the larger landscape, which is made up of private and public lands, intact.


Funding for the conservation easement was made possible through the bipartisan Great American Outdoors Act, which permanently funded the critically important Land and Water Conservation Fund. This project would not have been possible without the generous partnership and conservation mindset of Green Diamond Resource Company.


“Green Diamond Resource Company has acquired nearly 300,000 acres in Montana. As the largest private forestland owner in the State, we are committed to playing a role in both the conservation of a viable local timber industry and the continuation of recreational access for the people of Montana. Partnering with TPL and USFWS made this possible at the Lost Trail Conservation Area,” said Douglas Reed, President of Green Diamond Resource Company.

This conservation easement complements the 38,052 acres conserved with Southern Pine Plantation in the Lost Trail Conservation Area in 2022 and adds to the 350,000 acres of forest land in northwest Montana that has been conserved over the past 20 years. It builds on other conservation projects such as the nearby 142,200-acre Thompson-Fisher Conservation Easement, the 7,956-acre Lost Trail National Wildlife Refuge, the 27,289-acre Kootenai Forestlands Phase II Conservation Easement, and the future 85,792-acre Montana Great Outdoors Project currently being worked on by GDRC and TPL.


“The Land and Water Conservation Fund is critically important to Montana’s public lands and the recreational economy they support — and the Lost Trail Conservation Area is a testament to the fund’s continued impact on the Treasure State,” said Senator Tester. “Trust for Public Land has been a proud partner since day one, and this project is a win for the local communities and for public land users alike. Now, more than 13,000 acres of additional land will be protected – a big step forward to boost our state’s economy and ensure Montana’s treasured public lands and way of life are around for generations to come.”

“Our diverse wildlife and lush forests help make Montana special. Keeping working timberlands productive, safeguarding important wildlife habitats and permanently ensuring public access to these landscapes are essential to preserving and protecting the great outdoors for future generations of Montanans to enjoy,” said Sen. Steve Daines

TPL has conserved over 600,000 acres in Montana over the past 20 years, creating a legacy of public access for future generations. Currently, the organization’s goal is to conserve an additional 200,000 acres over the next three years, including another 4,468 acres with GDRC in the Lost Trail Conservation Area that is anticipated to close next year. This ambitious conservation effort is possible thanks to the support of local governments, State Agencies and the Land and Water Conservation Fund, this goal might be accomplished.


“Ensuring that working timberlands remain working while also preserving permanent public access strikes the right balance of economic viability and public benefit,” added Flathead County Commissioner Randy Brodehl.

About Trust for Public Land

Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit that works to connect everyone to the benefits and joys of the outdoors. As a leader in equitable access to the outdoors, TPL works with communities to create parks and protect public land where they are needed most. Since 1972, TPL has protected more than 4 million acres of public land, created more than 5,420 parks, trails, schoolyards, and iconic outdoor places, raised $94 billion in public funding for parks and public lands, and connected nearly 9.7 million people to the outdoors. To learn more, visit tpl.org.

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