Two decades ago, the community of Helena banded together and formed Prickly Pear Land Trust to create and protect Mt. Ascension Natural Park. PPLT has stayed true to its roots and today is a creative conservation organization whose guiding principle is to “connect land and people.” We work to reach this goal by focusing on three key areas: Trails, Lands, and Community Conservation.
PPLT coordinates with public and private landowners in Helena’s South Hills and beyond to create a cohesive, streamlined, and sustainable trails system. On a run, hike or ride in the South Hills, you cross lands owned by the Forest Service, City of Helena, Bureau of Land Management and private citizens, but never leave a PPLT-influenced trail.
Through conservation easements and the occasional purchase, PPLT’s lands program works with area landowners to guarantee vital open space and habitat are protected against subdivision and development. We make conservation a viable financial option.
With Community Conservation, PPLT seeks to get the entire community involved and outside – regardless of age or ability. Delivering services and amenities, like at our Tenmile Creek Park, to underserved segments of the community is the key to this.
PPLT believes that open spaces, trails, and a healthy environment are important to everybody and we need all hands on deck to ensure the places we care about are protected long into the future.
As an organization committed to the healing and connection to the lands and waters where we live, Prickly Pear Land Trust acknowledges, with honor and respect, the Indigenous Nations on whose traditional territories the greater Helena community now stands and whose historical relationships with the land continue to this day. Our work stretches across the Jefferson, Powell, Lewis and Clark, and Broadwater Counties spilling over into Meagher and Cascade counties as well. This area includes the Prickly Pear Valley, Boulder River Basin, Upper Missouri River watershed, Big Belt Mountains, Little Blackfoot Valley, Elkhorn Mountains and a long stretch of the Continental Divide. Prickly Pear Land Trust recognizes that this land is the traditional land of the Blackfeet, the Salish, the Kootenai, the Métis/Little Shell Chippewa, the Crow, and the Shoshone. The indigenous nations who inhabited these lands and continue to their connection with this ground, these waters, and all life found in these spaces always have and will always be the original stewards of the land.
Acknowledgment of the indigenous nations and their lasting connection to the land is an important practice that promotes indigenous visibility and a reminder that we are on settled indigenous land. Prickly Pear Land Trust commits to adapting and evolving our work as we continuously work to include and support Native voices in our mission to connect land and people. We invite you to join us in this ongoing conversation and actively support tribal communities/organizations across the greater Helena Valley and Montana at large.
Trail work days, events and committees— these are just some of the ways to give your time to PPLT. If you’ve got the time, we’ve got the project.
From membership to sponsorship, there are so many ways to offer financial support to PPLT. Check out many levels of giving available.
Get PPLT gear for the whole family— with a great selection of goods, everyone will be happy in their new Happy. Trails. merchandise.