Conservation Success on Montana’s Alvord Lake
After a decade of dedication from the Friends of Alvord Lake and with support from Y2Y and others, Missoula-based partner Vital Ground recently announced the purchase of 142 ac (57 ha) of forested land on Lake Alvord, near Troy, Montana, which will remain accessible to the public.
“This project is a great example of how on‐the‐ground collaboration increases public access to Montana’s treasured places,” said Senator Jon Tester, who helped secure funding for the project. “The Land and Water Conservation Fund is one of the best conservation tools around and I’m pleased it’s helping outdoorsmen and women enjoy the beauty of Alvord Lake.”
The unique property is the only private holding on the lake, and when it was purchased by a developer in 2002, public access was temporarily denied. Had development of the parcel gone ahead, it would have threatened nesting sites for common loons, compromised important winter range for moose, deer and elk, and likely would have cut off a hiking trail that surrounds the lake.
After 12 years of an entire local community advocating for its public access, the region and its wildlife will no longer be threatened by development. “It's been a tremendously long process to reach a conservation outcome," said Gary Jones, managing partner of Friends of Alvord Lake, "and we're ecstatic that we identified one that will benefit the public via educational and recreational opportunities, wildlife habitat protection, and the continuation of active forest management."
As the qualified non-profit acquiring the property, Vital Ground will manage the area in partnership with a local stakeholder’s group that collaborated to produce a detailed plan to guide stewardship, public access and protection of the property’s conservation values. The region provides crucial habitat for diverse wildlife, including grizzly bears, wolves, Merriam’s turkey and bobcats, and lies within known fisher and potentially wolverine habitat as well.
“This project has been the most collaborative effort that Vital Ground has ever participated in,” says Executive Director Ryan Lutey. “Every one of our projects are conducted only with willing landowners and rely on public support, but the enthusiasm and dedication of this diverse partnership made this acquisition truly enjoyable.”
Y2Y was truly excited to support this collaborative effort, which involved numerous other partners, foundations and individual donors. This protected area lies within a larger region of critical importance for trans-border habitat connectivity—especially for grizzly bear recovery efforts within the trans-border Cabinet-Purcell Mountain Corridor priority area and the Yahk to Yaak project region that it encompasses.