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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Largest Land Conservation in U.S. Sealed

When the ink finally dries on the largest conservation land purchase in the history of the United States - 320,000 Montana forest acres for $510 million - nearly nothing will have changed. And that, of course, is exactly the point.

The deal between Plum Creek Timber Co. and conservation buyers is designed to maintain the status quo; the real change would come if those western Montana acres were sold instead to real estate developers. Plum Creek lands to be purchased under the deal announced Monday include forests surrounding the Missoula Valley, on up the Swan and even into the Yaak, and all “are worth more as house lots than as board feet,” said Eric Love, regional director for conservation buyer Trust for Public Lands. “It just would be tragic to lose it all to backcountry sprawl.”