Lewis and Clark County Commissioners
316 North Park Ave Rm 345
Helena, Montana 59623
Kyle Weaver, CEO
Rocky Mtn Elk Foundation
5305 Grant Creek Road
Missoula, MT 59808
Dear Commissioners and Mr Weaver:
Montana Chapter of Backcountry Hunter and Anglers enthusiastically supports the proposed acquisition of the 442-acre Falls Creek Project parcel in the Dearborn drainage as proposed by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Our Montana Chapter is comprised of 2,600 active hunters and anglers from around Montana. Many of our members depend on – and use – the public lands of the Rocky Mountain Front, as do many other Montanans as well as non-residents.
While Montana is fortunate to have approximately 29% of the state as public land, some large parcels of public land in Montana are totally or relatively inaccessible for hunting, fishing and other recreational purposes. The Dearborn drainage has a legacy of many private landowners restricting hunters and anglers from crossing their land to access public lands and waters. While certainly within the landowners’ rights to control access, the situation has limited the opportunities for hunters and anglers to reach their public lands and waters in the Dearborn drainage.
This particular acquisition would enable hunters and anglers to not only use the acquired property including the Dearborn River, but also to use the Falls Creek trail which was originally open to hunters and anglers when constructed. Restored public access to the Falls Creek trail would enable hunters to harvest elk on National Forest lands which are within a unit that is substantially over Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ elk population objectives. Of course, other species could be hunted as well: non-consumptive opportunities to view wildlife would be expanded.
This acquisition would also allow additional angling access to the Dearborn River – which is currently limited by extensive private lands – as well as provide access to the scenic Falls Creek. With potential to be restored to a native Cutthroat stream, Falls Creek currently offers fishing for both rainbow and brook trout in a very scenic setting.
In summary, this acquisition will permanently enable hunters and anglers, both resident and non-resident, to enjoy the rich heritage of public lands and waters in the Dearborn drainage. We encourage all parties to work toward a satisfactory conclusion of this unique and worthwhile project.
Region 4 Board Member, The Montana Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers