Jim Cusker Interview, November 1, 2019


Henry James Cusker


Liam Cody



Download Audio Interview (137.7 MB)

Download Transcript of Jim Cusker interview (277 KB)


Jim Cusker talks about his work in land conservation with Montana organizations including Five Valleys Land Trust and the Community Food and Agriculture Coalition [CFAC]. Cusker describes how he initially became involved with Five Valleys Land Trust when he realized that much of the land in Grass Valley, west of Missoula, Montana, was being broken up into smaller parcels and sold for housing rather than agriculture. He discusses how he began researching how to put his family’s land into an easement that would protect it from being broken up and sold even after his death. Cusker talks about his eventual service on the board of the land trust, and the advocacy work he and the other members do to encourage other landowners to consider easements. He describes the misconception that many people have about easements, which allow the landowner to still own and retain their land, but the trust helps manage it so the entire property remains intact long after the original owner is gone. Cusker details his concern about the loss of agricultural land around Missoula and the state of Montana as more housing developments are being built and larger land tracts are broken up. He compares that to when his family originally homesteaded in the early 1900s and how the land back then was stewarded because it provided families with sustenance and income.


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Document Type

Oral History


Grass Valley, Montana; Missoula, Montana; Farming, Montana; Ranching, Montana; Family business; Family farm; Science education; Science teachers; High school teachers; Land management; Biology; Zoology; Education, Montana; High schools, Montana; Havre, Montana; Animal husbandry; 4-H; Agriculture; Agriculture education; Land conservation; Land easement; Natural resources; Clark Fork River; Great Depression (1929-1939); Land ownership; Community Food and Agriculture Coalition [CFAC]; Five Valleys Land Trust; Land conservation, Montana; Housing development

Original Date


Time Period

Twentieth century

Geographic Coverage




Original Collection

Henry James “Jim” Cusker Oral History Project, OH 469, Archives and Special Collections, Mansfield Library, University of Montana

Digital Publisher

University of Montana--Missoula. Mansfield Library


Copyright to this collection is held by the interview participants and by the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, University of Montana-Missoula. Permission may be required for use. For further information please contact Archives and Special Collections at the University of Montana, Mansfield Library.

Oral History Number

OH 469-002

Media Type

Sound; Text

Original Format

1 MP3 file (01:51:01 min.): digital + 1 transcript (16 pp.: 28 cm.)

Digital Format

audio/mp3; application/pdf

Run Time

01:51:01 minutes

Local Filename

OH_469_002.mp3; OH_469_002.pdf

Jim Cusker Interview, November 1, 2019