With support from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) announced plans to acquire 13,000 acres of private land from the Nature Conservancy and open it to public use.
The acreage is adjacent to BLM-managed lands within the Lower Blackfoot River-Belmont Creek area 25 miles northeast of Missoula, Montana. The lands would be acquired in phases using Sportsman’s Access funds from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. This year’s allocation of $5.6 million will allow the BLM to acquire approximately 7,300 of the 13,000 acres by late fall of this year.
“The decision announced today improves and expands recreation access along Montana’s iconic Lower Blackfoot River area,” said Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt. “It also exemplifies the Bureau of Land Management’s multiple-use mission by maintaining working lands with active forestry and fire-management projects that will also reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfires and improve the health of the forest, consistent with the goals of Executive Order 13855,”
Missoula Field Manager Joe Ashor said he and his team are grateful to local nonprofit organizations that played a big role in securing a portion of the funds that made the acquisition possible. “We greatly appreciate the overwhelming support we have received on this acquisition from local landowners and sportsmen’s groups as well as key partners such as the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation; Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks; the Blackfoot Challenge; and the Missoula County commissioners,” said Joe Ashor, Missoula BLM field manager.
“Expanding access to public lands for outdoor recreation is one of this administration’s highest priorities, and these acquisitions will make an enormous difference for all Americans who want to experience the beauty of the Blackfoot River and its watershed,” said BLM’s Deputy Director for Policy and Programs William Perry Pendley.
Go here to read the DOI news release in its entirety.
(Photo source: Bureau of Land Management)