Though we’re holed up, we refuse to hold up! Between Punxsutawney Phil’s accurate prognosis and a pandemic, the PPLT team is dreaming, planning, and assembling new projects, future trails and public access, as well as community events like races and volunteer workdays. No holding back on PPLT’s 25th year!

Photo: The Lincoln Wildlife Conservation Easement

While Prickly Pear Land Trust actively seeks large, landscape-level properties for our private lands program, every so often we protect a smaller property. Often these key parcels host connections to other protected or public lands. In the case of one property near Lincoln, it will protect the highest ecological value habitat for a medley of rare species found in the “Crown of the Continent” ecosystem.

Surrounded by other protected properties and the Scapegoat Wilderness, this wildlife-focused conservation easement will set aside just such a property for perpetuity. Lynx, bears, wolves, fishers, wolverines and other illusive and toothy critters call this property home. Liverpool Creek, a haunt of our native Westslope cutthroat trout, also winds its way along the property before feeding into Keep Cool Creek, a tributary of the Blackfoot River. The conservation easement, donated to PPLT and on its way to closing, will assure that the critical habitat and riparian system will remain intact forever. Keep an eye out for the bigger story this summer.

For those of you who’ve never had the luck of spotting a wolverine in the wild, you’re not alone. The wolverine (Gulo gulo) is the largest of the mustelids, a carnivorous mammal family that includes weasels, minks, and badgers. It is known as much for its ability not to be seen as it is for its ferocity.

Despite the cold temps and snow, the days when we can throw on a pair of shorts, a t-shirt, and some sneakers to get out for a run or hike are coming soon. So set your sights on the 21st annual Don't Fence Me In Trail Run and Trail Challenge beginning in May!
You loved it last year, so we'll once again have a multi-week trail challenge—25 days beginning May 8 to celebrate PPLT's 25th anniversary—including a Bingo card to complete as you go. We'll have virtual races for every one of our distances. We're also working with the Lewis & Clark County Public Health Department to determine if and how we might be able to safely gather on May 8 for in-person racing.
Really glad to see a group that brings people together from across the spectrum to get conservation done on the ground, and to provide wholesome, active outdoor recreation for everyone.
-Bill & Marti Cook


Were the South Hills part of your childhood? Were the trails your backyard?

Is Helena with the South Hills all you know?

If so, we want to hear from you!

PPLT is collecting stories as part of our 25th Anniversary and we would love to hear yours.

Please email Rachel if you would like to share your South Hills story.

What do trails and parties have in common? They are both a big part of Prickly Pear Land Trust’s community-building efforts and we need help with them both. Prickly Pear Land Trust is a fun and fast-paced non-profit with huge community support and a mission and vision that are easy to get jazzed about.

We connect land and people through our efforts in traditional conservation, outdoor recreation and education, and community land stewardship. So if you are or someone you know is a fan of PPLT’s work, is a team-player, and has the skills to support our trails program or events, please take a look or forward on the following job announcements. Both positions will remain opened until filled.

As part of PPLT’s 25th anniversary, we are hosting a weekly “Throwback Thursday” post on our Facebook and Instagram feeds about PPLT projects, people, places, and parties in the last 25 years.

Before there was Harvest Moon, PPLT supporters congregated to celebrate the big Puxatony Predictor and conservation at the “Groundhog Day Jubilee”. The brainchild of one of PPLT’s founding members, and current board member, Dawn North, the first annual Groundhog Day Jubilee was on February 2nd, 2000 the same year as the first Harvest Moon. Though the Groundhog Day Jubilee is not still around, its joyous spirit carries on in events including Harvest Moon and Don't Fence Me In.

So far in 2021, lands issues, recreation, and wildlife are dominating local news in the Big Sky state. Just as the state of the Rockies Poll has announced Montanans as tied for the highest percentage of conservationists nationwide, the Montana Legislature is entertaining several bills that affect recreation and conservation efforts. Here is a quick look at the legislation we are following:

HB 352 J. Hinkle (R - Belgrade): This bill would require public access on any publicly funded conservation easement. The land trusts, Montana Association of Counties, Stockgrowers, and many other groups opposed this bill for a number of reasons. Namely, it would significantly diminish availability of conservation easement to landowners statewide. Forcing landowners to host and manage public access on working farms and ranches will reduce the incentive to keep land from being protected. Additionally, land trusts have long taken the position that the offering of public access should be the decision of a private property owner. 

LC 1980 Sen. Mike Lang (R - Lewistown): This would prevent nonprofits from buying agricultural land. Some circumstances make it necessary for nonprofits like PPLT to purchase land. PPLT works very hard to keep Montana farms and ranches in agriculture and as open space. This bill could remove one necessary tool that landowners and land trusts have for saving land. 

LC 2793 Rep Julie Dooling (R - Helena): The proposal is a subdivision bill that eliminates a section of the Montana open lands statute and a basis of Montana’s legal conservation framework.

LC 3290 is a resolution that recognizes the importance of trails.

While there are several challenging bills entering hearings right now, all those who wish to preserve Montana’s lands, heritage and outdoor legacy are coming together. The land trust community, landowners, and conservation and recreation partners are united and coordinated in making our voices heard. We hope you will make your voice count too! 

The status of these bills are changing quickly and we encourage you to visit some of our peers to stay apprised of their progress and how they will affect the future of your public lands. Below are a few resources for you to check out. 

Prickly Pear Land Trust