Montana Governor Greg Gianforte recently visited the Mount Haggin Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in the western part of the state to recognize and celebrate its recent expansion, a project headed up by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
The Willow Creek project added 829 acres to the WMA, already the largest in Montana, now covering 56,980 acres. RMEF worked with the Burnett family to acquire and convey the property to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP).
“This expansion wouldn’t have been possible without the generosity of Roger and Gayle Burnett, the former landowners, and the hard work of many, including folks at the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation,” said Governor Gianforte. “I appreciate all the Montanans who helped get this project across the finish line.”
About 30 miles west of Butte, the property features open grasslands with sagebrush and bitterbrush foothills as well as aspen, willows and forestland. It supplies elk with winter, calving and summer range as well as important habitat for mule deer, moose, pronghorn antelope and other wildlife.
Because portions of Willow Creek and Mill Creek cross the property, in addition to various springs, the resulting wetlands and riparian habitat are vital for brook trout, westslope cutthroat trout, other fish species, beavers and more bird and animal species.
Project partners include hunters thanks to Pittman-Robertson excise taxes, Habitat Montana, Heart of the Rockies, and the Montana Fish and Wildlife Conservation Trust. RMEF also committed $37,000 to help FWP with set-up and future property management improvements including fencing, invasive weed control, signage and maps.
(Photo source: Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation)