It’s a big sky kind of day. The clouds are on cue, floating overhead in dreamy fashion. In front of landowners Pam and Mark Smithers, the blue and gold sparkle of the West Fork River tumbles by.

Behind them, the rich velvet green forest is in repose. And all around is the song of birds – the rumble of grouse, bald eagle chatter, and honks from Canada geese.

Pam and Mark can’t help but smile at each other. They just recently protected 33 acres of open land at the confluence of Nez Perce creek and the West Fork of the Bitterroot River.

They raised their two boys, Ryan 30 and Will 26, hiking and exploring the wilderness, instilling a love of the outdoors. The natural world has always played a role in the Smithers’ lives, and Montana is where they wanted to be.

“This place in particular, with its views up the Nez Perce drainage, is very special. It was love at first sight! My volunteer work with other land trusts has shown me how powerful conservation easements can be in protecting wild lands for future generations,” says Pam.

The development potential is high due to the desirability of the area with its blue-ribbon fishing and middle-of-nowhere feel. The good news is conservation is making a difference. This stunning half mile of river frontage – with its lush evergreen, cottonwood and aspen forest, beautiful meadow, and wildlife habitat – is protected forever.

“We do worry a bit about the future, but many people are trying very hard to protect the Earth for future generations and we are grateful we can participate in our small way.”
– Pam Smithers

There is still much work to be done. But with thoughtful families like the Smithers, and support from caring community members like you, a future full of beautiful, protected open lands is possible.