Patti Eldredge didn’t plan to become a conservation hero, let alone a community leader. Soft spoken, with wind tussled hair and a bit of whimsy in her smile, she and her husband Howard had lived on their land for years.

The land’s not far from the Bitterroot River, in the town of Victor. The sweeping views stretch out over Sweat House Creek—home to blue herons, eagles and white tail deer.

Sweathouse Creek - Success Story - Bitter Root Land Trust

“When we conserved our land, almost twenty years ago, we did it because we really love this place,” she explained. What Patti and Howard didn’t know at the time is that they would end up inspiring more than 35 other families like theirs to conserve their own special lands.

In total, it’s 7,300 acres of some of the Bitterroot Valley’s important ranchlands, wildlife areas, and water ways.

Our Community Need These Lands

“Our community needs these lands,” Patti says. “Enjoying nature, hiking, camping– it’s important to our spiritual, mental, and physical well-being. It would break my heart if we, as a community, lost the special quality of the river, the open spaces.”

That sense of connecting to the land has become part of the Eldredges’ conservation ethic. Over the years they have hosted ecology field trips for elementary students on their place along the creek, so “the kids get a chance to love it, like we do,” she says.

“Too often folks think that you don’t own it, or manage it, when you protect your land, but that’s not the case,” says Patti.

“Conserving your land is a big decision, and for us, we are so thankful we did.”

It seemed like the right thing to do at the time, and it still feels that way almost 20 years later. It’s something our family feels good about. If you treasure this valley, the working lands, the water, the wildlife habitat, then this is the best thing you can do to protect it.”