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Baltimore mourns Rep. Elijah Cummings, who 'Fought for All.' Also on our rundown: Rick Perry headed for door as Energy Secretary; and EPA holds its only hearing on rolling back methane regulations.

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While controversy swirls at the White House, Chicago teachers go on strike, and Democratic primary contender retired Admiral Joe Sestak walks 105 miles across New Hampshire.

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300,000 Acre Montana Land Deal is Just “Plum” Lucky

July 1, 2008

Kalispell, MT – It's being called the "Plum Lucky" deal: more than 300,000 acres of Montana forest are changing hands for more than a half-billion dollars.

The Nature Conservancy and The Trust for Public Land are buying the property from Plum Creek Timber Company for $510 million. They plan to keep the forests open for sustainable timber harvest, as well as public access and recreation. Melanie Parker is a resident of nearby Swan Valley, who sees the deal as a win-win because local people feared the area would turn into high-priced private real estate.

"The whole point of this project is to maintain public access that we all, as Montanans, enjoy for hunting and fishing and horseback riding."

The money for the purchase comes from several private donations, as well as funding through the new national farm bill. Parker says it's a big relief to know that the land won't be locked up.

"We don't want gated communities and recreational real estate destination spots, and so with that threat looming, this is a one-in-a-lifetime chance."

The lands in the deal include what's called the heart of the "Crown of the Continent" because of the diversity of plants, species and ecosystems. It's home to grizzly bears, lynx, wolverine and bull trout.

Plum Creek is the biggest landowner in the United States and in Montana.

Deborah Smith/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - MT