Elk NetworkPublic Access Expanded in Southwest Montana

Conservation , News Releases | October 7, 2019

October 7, 2019

Public Access Expanded in Southwest Montana

MISSOULA, Mont.—The largest wildlife management area in Montana is now 160 acres larger thanks to a joint effort by a conservation-minded landowner, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP), and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

“We appreciate Edna Schmeller, a RMEF life member and long-time supporter of our mission, for bringing this conservation project to our attention.” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO. “This land has been in her family for nearly three decades. Now it is permanently protected and opened to public access for everyone to use and enjoy.”

The property is about 10 miles south of Anaconda at the base of the Anaconda-Pintlar Mountains. Previously surrounded on two sides by the 56,000-acre Mount Haggin Wildlife Management Area (WMA), it is now part of the WMA itself.

“This is a critical stretch of landscape. It is a migration corridor for elk and mule deer because it connects winter range on the west side of the Continental Divide with calving and fawning grounds as well as summer range on the east side of the Divide,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “Plus it features vital riparian habitat that supports a wide range of other fish, wildlife and plant species.”

The property’s habitat contains wetlands, meadows and forest lands. Beginning in 2020, FWP has plans to restore native westslope cutthroat trout and Arctic grayling to the French Creek watershed, which includes Oregon Creek that flows through the property.

FWP manages the WMA for multiple use activities including hunting, fishing, trapping, snowmobiling and other recreational pursuits. The property lies next to popular ski and snowmobile trails, however it is managed only as walk-in access from May 16 through December 1.