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There is a new program in Montana that seek to source for funds from innkeepers to help in the conservation of the beautiful landscape that attracts millions of tourists. The program, which aims to request people to contribute at least $1 or $2, will use the funds to pay landowners who will agree to sign a binding conservation easement. The easements are supposed to limit the landowners from developing, or selling off property for residential plots or other developments apart from being used for agricultural purposes.

The Travelers for Open Land Program was founded by Mike Scholz, and has seen well wishers such as Montana’s tourism agency, the Montana Community Foundation, Travel Montana, and the Montana Association of Land Trusts join hands. Scholz foresees participation from the hospitality industry at large.

The tourism market of Montana gets over 10 million tourists a year, thus according to Scholz, raising $1 million annually wouldn’t be difficult. Towards the run-up of launching the program in mid-April, organizers got agreements for participation from over 80 ‘properties’. Scholz, who is a member of various tourism boards in the area anticipates to get over 250-300 signups in a few years.

The target market for this worthy course are the geo-travelers, who are expected to either put cash in envelops placed in their hotel rooms or better still pay extra on room bill. The land trusts that will apply for money for purchasing easements are expected to match up the funds.

Programs like Travelers for Open Land, according to Scholz have been started in other places, albeit none functions nationwide. The Jackson Lake Lodge in Wyoming for example collects $1 per room from willing guests, and sends the funds to the Grand Teton National Park Foundation. Shannon Whalen of Grand Teton Lodge company said the program has been very successful since its inception.

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