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HELENA - The Prickly Pear Land Trust has negotiated a conservation easement on the 1,500-acre Schatz Ranch, which sits just west of the railroad tunnel at Mullan Pass on the Continental Divide.

Prickly Pear Director Andy Baur says donors have strongly supported the easement for the property owned by Ron and Vonne Schatz.

Conservation easements protect land from subdivision and development through a mix of payments and tax breaks for the landowners.

The Schatz Ranch was homesteaded in 1865 and the couple has long opened their land to hunters and snowmobilers. The property is also home to elk, deer, moose, coyotes, goshawks and mountain chickadees.

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