A recent vote by the Montana Department of Natural Resources & Conservation Land Board will set aside 5,700 acres of state-managed public land in the Big Sky State. The new public land will provide access to an additional 100,000 acres owned by both the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the United States Forest Service (USFS). The land sits in the central part of Montana at the base of the Big Snowy Mountains. It is being sold to the state for $8.2 million by a local children’s hospital.
With the October 17 vote to approve the purchase of the soon-to-be Big Snowy Mountain Wildlife Management Area (WMA), the Land Board concluded a three-year effort to allow the state to acquire the property. The purchase was met with widespread support from several conservation groups including Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, the Montana Wildlife Federation, and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) worked behind the scenes to facilitate the project and has pledged a $250,000 grant to help with startup infrastructure and management of the property. “Elk management benefits come with this project,” RMEF Senior Lands Program Manager Mike Mueller told the Helena Independent Record. “Fish, Wildlife & Parks reports population objectives are over 900 percent above objective there, and a contributing factor is a lack of public access. So this is a public access project.”
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