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Ashlander helps sell Montana land to trust

Ashland resident Jeannie Taber Green has helped create a permanent legacy for her parents on the land they loved along the Bitterroot River in Montana.

She and her older sister, Lynn Taber Sherwood of Portland, sold 22 acres of riverfront property their parents owned for below-market value to the nonprofit Bitter Root Land Trust to establish a public park in their parents' honor.

"It was the highest and best use for humans and animals alike," Green said. "It's basically an animal preserve. Moose walk right up to the house. We would see them just 15 feet away. It is a magnificent, undisturbed, lovely piece of land."

Moreover, preserving the land as open space was just what their late parents would have wanted, she said.

"Our parents felt they were blessed to be able to watch deer, muskrats, moose," she said, noting their parents were outdoor enthusiasts who loved to hike and watch wildlife.

The picturesque property, including a third of a mile of river frontage where moose, deer and other wild creatures hang out, is in Hamilton, about 50 miles south of Missoula.

Appraised at $220,000, the land was sold earlier this month to the land trust for $165,000, according to the Ravalli Republic, a newspaper based in Hamilton.

The acquisition is the first for the trust, which has focused on obtaining conservation easements to preserve land, it noted.

"The market value was considerably more than they could pay," Green observed, noting the sisters wanted to ensure the land would remain open and not be developed.

Although their parents didn't purchase the property until their two daughters had fledged, it had been in the family for decades, said Green, 69.

The sisters were both reared in Hamilton, where their father, John Taber, was a mining geologist and their mother, Helen Robards Taber, a freelance journalist. Their parents married in 1938 after meeting at Washington State University.

John, who was born in Klamath Falls, died in 1997. Helen passed away in 2010 in Ashland.

"There are options for preserving a special piece of land that shouldn't be developed," Green said. "We and everyone we've received feedback from are thrilled."

Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 541-776-4496 or email him at pfattig@mailtribune.com.