Easment to help preserve North Fork Flathead River valley

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A small, but important piece of property near Polebridge has been placed under a conservation easement, the Flathead land Trust announced last week.

Del and Linda Coolidge donated a 30-acres easement of their property to the Trust. The land adjoins 31 acres placed into a conservation easement with Flathead Land Trust in 1996 by the late John Frederick. Together, these properties help to better ensure that the North Fork Flathead River valley remains one of the most ecologically intact and wild river valleys of the lower 48 states, the Trust said in a release.

The easement allows the Coolidges to own and manage the property as they always have, but ensures that the property will never be subdivided or overly developed even after they pass it on to their heirs or it transfers to subsequent owners, thus ensuring protection of its wildlife habitat and open space in perpetuity.

“Our Polebridge property has been owned by the Coolidge family since 1969. Betty and Pep Coolidge strongly advocated protection of open space for wildlife. They would be proud to know that the property is now protected by a conservation easement with the Flathead Land Trust. Wildlife, including bears, wolves, elk and many other species need corridors and undeveloped space where humans don’t intrude. Hopefully our modest contribution will inspire other landowners to protect part or all of their land with a conservation easement that benefits future generations by preserving a unique ecosystem.” Del and Linda Coolidge said in a release.

The Trust received generous grants from Vital Ground Foundation, a nonprofit land trust that conserves habitat for grizzly bears and other wildlife in the northern Rocky Mountains, and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to help pay for expenses associated with the project.

The Trust has 416 acres of private land in the North Fork conserved through conservation easements and has helped to conserve an additional 1,112 acres in the area through partnerships.

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