February 1, 2016
RMEF Project Protects Montana Elk Habitat,
Expands Public Access
MISSOULA, Mont.—Located in the heart of elk winter range in Montana’s Madison Valley, the Madison-Wall Creek Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is now approximately 10 percent larger thanks to a land transfer from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP).
“This is a tremendously unique project because we not only protected and conserved important elk habitat but actually improved it after removing a 3,000-square-foot home from the site,” said Blake Henning, RMEF vice president of Lands and Conservation. “This is a classic example of a trophy house in the wrong spot. It was an intrusion on elk winter range but through creativity and partnership, we removed it and left behind open habitat for elk and other wildlife in perpetuity.”
In late 2014, RMEF acquired 631 acres of grassy rangeland 24 miles south of Ennis immediately adjacent to the WMA. The entire southern edge of the property borders the existing WMA while the eastern edge borders Bureau of Land Management land that runs clear to the Madison River.
RMEF recently conveyed the property to FWP.
“This is such an exciting addition to Wall Creek considering everything and everyone that benefit,” said Julie Cunningham, FWP area biologist. “First you have the 2,000 elk that use the WMA as crucial winter range, then the hundreds of mule deer and antelope that migrate through and – of course – the hunters who will now have access to hundreds more acres of huntable public land.”
RMEF oversaw a bidding process in 2015 that led to the removal of the house from the premises. FWP will use the remaining structures for management and administration purposes. The actual home site will be reseeded and a small man-made pond will be reclaimed.
In addition to preventing subdivision, the transaction improves and enhances public access to the now 7,188-acre WMA. It also expands hunting and fishing recreational opportunities, further protects the Madison River watershed, and allows for more elk tolerance by helping to prevent game damage issues.