Conservation deal in Montana to cost $500 million |

Conservation deal in Montana to cost $500 million

The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

HELENA, Mont. ” A deal that will protect some of Montana’s most prized land is being hailed by conservationists and elected officials.

Plum Creek Timber has agreed to sell 320,000 acres to two conservation groups with the backing of the federal government. U.S. Sen. Max Baucus says it’s the largest deal of its kind in U.S. history and will cost about $500 million.

The agreement was signed Monday morning at a ceremony in Kalispell.

Supporters say it guarantees key forest land in the Swan Valley and around Missoula will remain protected from development.

The Nature Conservancy and The Trust for Public Land say the land will be managed as a working forest with harvestable timber. The government is expected to eventually take ownership of a majority of the land.