Thorell Conservation Project

As January snows quietly blanket the tall pines and alder thickets of their Pack River home, Lenny and Carole Thorell take comfort in the knowledge that their special corner of the world will remain as it is for a very long time.

The Thorells recently entered into a voluntary conservation partnership with Kaniksu Land Trust to ensure that their hay meadows, carefully tended forestland, and streamside wildlife areas will be undeveloped into the future.

“We have sensed for many years that this property is unique,” says Lenny. “The past 40 years have given us time to reflect on its importance.”

But the Thorells have done much more than just reflect. Beginning with their purchase of a small home site parcel in 1978, Lenny and Carole have spent decades slowly stitching back together the fragmented remnants of land adjacent to their Pack River home, ultimately rejoining 10 contiguous parcels into a 65-acre block of land.

“Unchecked development in rural America deserves greater awareness,” says Lenny. “I have pretty strong feelings about the paving of paradise.” 

Thanks to community support, Kaniksu Land Trust was able to assist Lenny and Carole to conserve their Pack River land. The Thorell’s conservation agreement allows for their 65-acre homestead to continue to be used for hay production, timber, and wildlife.

“It’s truly remarkable what Lenny and Carole have accomplished here,” says Regan Plumb, Conservation Director at Kaniksu Land Trust. “Conserving this portion of the Pack River will pay many dividends in the future, from protecting our clean water and healthy forests to providing scenic beauty to people and space for animals. It’s been such a pleasure to assist them in this process.”

As with all land conserved with Kaniksu Land Trust, the property remains in private hands and traditional land uses are preserved. The Thorells continue to own and manage their land and are free to sell, gift, or lease it to others.

This is one of many projects in which Kaniksu Land Trust has helped private landowners to accomplish their conservation goals. KLT has worked extensively along the Bull River and other areas of Sanders County, Montana, as well as in Bonner and Boundary Counties in Idaho. Nearly 4,000 acres of stream corridors, working farms and ranches, natural areas, and wildlife habitat have been now conserved with the organization since it was established in 2002.