MISSOULA, Mont. — Hunters, anglers and others have more room to roam after the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation collaborated with a conservation-minded family to permanently protect 612 acres of habitat in western Montana.
“We appreciate the Dvorak family for reaching out to us and requesting that we assist with this conservation effort,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO.
The transaction opens public access to the property and transfers it to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP). In doing so, it also enlarges the Garrity Mountain Wildlife Management Area (WMA) just west of Anaconda to 10,389 acres.
“This land is especially important because it provides spring calving and winter elk range as well as habitat for whitetail and mule deer, moose and bighorn sheep,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “It also features nearly one mile of riparian habitat along Warm Springs Creek which contains many fish species including westslope cutthroat and bull trout, both of which are Montana species of concern.”
FWP placed special emphasis on the project because of the potential of subdivision or development that would have wide-ranging detrimental impacts on wildlife and habitat.
“Projects that add valuable habitats to FWP’s Wildlife Management Areas are a high priority for the department. When those habitats are also imminently threatened with development, we need to move quickly to get them in the public’s hands and protect those habitat and recreation values,” said Randy Arnold, FWP Region 2 supervisor. “Our partnership with RMEF was essential to make sure we had the time to work through public processes and pull together the necessary funding to acquire and maintain the land in perpetuity.”
Ironically, the project brings RMEF full circle in the immediate area. In 2000, RMEF brokered a transaction that eventually conveyed 32,000 acres of private land to state and federal ownership which includes today’s Garrity Mountain WMA. At the time, it was the largest land project in RMEF history.
RMEF’s Torstenson Family Endowment, FWP, Montana Natural Resource Damage Program and the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Trust contributed vital funding to complete this project.
About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:
Founded more than 36 years ago, fueled by hunters and a membership of nearly 235,000 strong, RMEF has conserved more than 8 million acres for elk and other wildlife. RMEF also works to open and improve public access, fund and advocate for science-based resource management, and ensure the future of America’s hunting heritage. Discover why “Hunting Is Conservation™” at rmef.org or 800-CALL ELK.