“You know, maybe I’m sacrificing a little bit, but it’s really, really minimal compared to what my grandmother and my dad did before me. They are the ones that held this place together.”

Dan’s eyes twinkled in the warm light of the afternoon sun that shone through tall, oversized windows in his upstairs family room.

You wouldn’t know it now, but for a time this room of the 120-year-old house on Severson’s Flying E Ranch was called “home” by chickens. That was decades ago, when world wars and economic decline took their toll on the Bitterroot Valley. The family, and the ranch, would prove to be stronger than their circumstances.

It was Dan’s grandmother, Toi Long Logan, who spent a life-time caring for the ranch, working hard, and paying off debts, so they wouldn’t lose the land – all the while putting herself and her two daughters through college. After World War II, Dan’s dad came home and got to work rebuilding the ranch right alongside the whole family.

When the ranch was passed down to Dan, he contemplated how to honor their sacrifice and hard work, and secure the future of the ranch.

A Turning Point

Then, in 2006, Ravalli County voters passed the Open Lands bond program which provides funding to conserve water, wildlife habitat, and working farms and ranches.

It was a turning point for Dan. To him, it meant that the people of this valley were willing to come together to protect our beautiful valley and rural way of life. After he and Debbie conserved the ranch in 2011, Dan recalls, “When my neighbors started telling me they were glad about what we did, that meant everything to me.”

Since then, over 7,000 acres have been protected in the Burnt Fork alone. The area includes 15 miles of streams and creeks, varied wildlife habitat for birds, deer and elk, and large amounts of productive hay ground.

For Dan, it was a decision made 100% from his heart.

“The feeling of protecting this place is second only to seeing your kids grow up right. I have four kids—two sons and two daughters – and now it’s possible for this farm to continue for future generations of my family or another family that believes in the importance of agriculture for the community.”
– Dan Severson

While there may still be pressure for some farmers and ranchers to subdivide, it’s because of you – our supporters – the land trust can continue to work with families like the Seversons, and help them figure out if conservation is right for them.