Two years ago, Whitefish Legacy Partners in conjunction with the City of Whitefish concluded negotiations with the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation to purchase a permanent Conservation and Recreation Easement on 1,520 acres of School Trust Land in the Beaver Lake area. WLP agreed to purchase the development rights associated with this land, which precludes any future development of the land and maintains historical recreation use. The DNRC will continue to manage the land as a sustainable and active forest .
The easement is the result of collaborative partnerships providing public access and recreation while protecting the clean water of Whitefish Lake, prime wildlife habitat and maintaining productive forests on open lands surrounding Whitefish. The Whitefish Trail is the anchor recreation project encompassed within the easement.
The purchase was structured over a two year period, with the final payment due at the end of this year. The cost of the development rights on this land was expensive because of the proximity to Whitefish and the seven small lakes that are within and adjacent to the easement. The total purchase price is $8 million, which was payable in three installments. Six million dollars of the purchase price is being funded by philanthropist Michael Goguen. WLP is responsible for raising $2 million from the community. Many people have generously supported this effort, but $300,000 remains to be raised prior to the final payment due on December 31st, 2014. Every dollar donated is important in achieving this goal.
There are other conservation transactions contemplated in the near future, including 3,000 acres of land owned by Stoltze Land and Lumber Company in Haskill Basin. Before we can move onto these opportunities, we need to complete this first conservation transaction. Please support this effort and help us wrap up Beaver now.
Fred Jones, Chair Whitefish Legacy Partners