June 25, 2018
Montana Project Protects Wildlife Habitat, Expands Public Access
MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation worked with a conservation-minded family to permanently protect nearly 1,000 acres of elk habitat in southwest Montana. In addition to providing public access to the property, the project also greatly improves access to approximately 2,600 acres of adjacent public land.
“We appreciate Jerry and Linda Grow for recognizing the wildlife values of their land and reaching out to us to both protect it and open it to public access,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer.
The 960-acre parcel is located about 45 minutes south of Dillon in an area that includes a number of other RMEF land protection and public access projects. It is bordered on three sides by land managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest. RMEF now holds the property and will keep it open to public access until conveying it to the BLM, expected to happen later in 2018.
“We are very grateful for our partnerships with the private landowner, RMEF, and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) who all were all instrumental in securing this property for the public and conserving this habitat,” said Cornie Hudson, BLM Dillon Field Office manager.
The property features high quality winter range habitat for as many as 700 elk and approximately 450 mule deer. It also supports moose, antelope, black bear, wolverine, greater sage-grouse and other wildlife. Both West Fork Little Sheep Creek and Straight Creek cross the immediate landscape providing vital riparian habitat for fish and other aquatic species.
The parcel will be incorporated into a grass bank to be periodically grazed by domestic livestock. Doing so will make it subject to prescribed fire and other stewardship work that will maintain high-quality habitat for wildlife and livestock alike.
The tract is also historic range for bighorn sheep that used it until a recent die-off. FWP is strongly considering the property for future bighorn reintroduction efforts.
Two small cabins are on currently on the site and will remain to be used as public rentals via the BLM recreation.gov system.
“We are so excited for the public to be able to experience this recreational opportunity!” added Hudson.