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Stitching the West Back TogetherConservation of Working Landscapes$
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Susan Charnley, Thomas E. Sheridan, and Gary P. Nabhan

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780226165684

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226165851.001.0001

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Conservation And Development at Sun Ranch

Conservation And Development at Sun Ranch

The Search for Balance in the US. West

(p.209) 11 Conservation And Development at Sun Ranch
Stitching the West Back Together

Roger Lang

William H. Durham

Josh Spitzer

University of Chicago Press

The 26,000-acre Sun Ranch in Montana’s Madison Valley, owned by the Lang family from 1998-2010, was a private conservation enterprise working to protect ecologically important ranchlands through a variety of economic and conservation approaches. Sun Ranch also worked closely with the nonprofit Madison Valley Ranchlands Group, a collection of conservation-minded stakeholders with local ranchers at its core, to tackle regional problems such as habitat fragmentation, invasive species eradication, endangered species protection, and smarter development. The owners explored several ways to operate a financially viable conservation-focused ranch. They opened an “eco-lodge” for tourists. They founded the Sun Ranch Institute to design a small residential development on a least-sensitive part of the ranch. More than 98% of the remaining ranch was placed into conservation easements. The economic recession of the late 2000s resulted in the withdrawal of all prospective homebuyers, however, and the ranch was sold.

Keywords:   Madison Valley, Montana, Madison Valley Ranchlands Group, Sun Ranch, conservation easements, habitat fragmentation, eco-lodge, residential development

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