Martin Kidston

(Missoula Current) With several recent conservation achievements under its belt, Five Valleys Land Trust plans to use a grant awarded by the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust to fill a new position to enhance the organization's efforts moving forward.

Whitney Schwab, executive director of Five Valleys, said her organization has secured nearly 100,000 acres of land over the years. But looking forward, she said new opportunities will arise, and conserving those places in perpetuity is of critical importance.

“Building a solid base of financial support through planned gifts will ensure that we're able to protect important conservation lands throughout western Montana, and responsibly steward these landscapes into the future,” said Schwab.

Until now, Schwab said Five Valleys has been focused on meeting its immediate financial needs. But as generations age and conservation interests rise, charitable giving is also expected to increase.

Securing those opportunities will help the organization “deliver on our promise of perpetuity,” the organization said.

“This is an opportunity for Five Valleys to take advantage of the unprecedented transfer of wealth now taking place to make certain that we can continue our critical work of protecting western Montana’s natural legacy for future generations,” said Denny Iverson, president of the organization's board of directors.

In recent years, Five Valleys has achieved a number of conservation successes. Among them, it secured hundreds of acres on Mount Dean Stone in Missoula's South Hills. It also secured a portion of Marshall Mountain, which the city and county will place under public ownership.

An arial view of Mount Dean Stone and Miller Creek. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current file)
An arial view of Mount Dean Stone and Miller Creek. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current file)

Last week, the organization also conserved a 122-acre agricultural easement in the Grass Valley area near Frenchtown. The wealth accumulated by the Baby Boomer generation could help conserve such places in perpetuity.

“If you cherish our community open spaces like Mount Jumbo, Mount Sentinel, the North Hills, and Mount Dean Stone, or special places like the Flint Creek Valley, please consider leaving a legacy gift to Five Valleys,” said Iverson.

The new grant awarded to Five Valleys by the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust will help Five Valleys fill a position aimed at securing gifts and other contributions left by advocates of open space, public lands and conservation.

The Charitable Trust serves communities throughout the Pacific Northwest and helps them innovate and maintain a sustainable operation.

“At the Murdock Trust, we help nonprofits sharpen their approach and sustain their mission because we believe that when a powerful idea fulfills its promise, lives are changed, communities thrive, and our entire region prospers,” the trust said in a statement.