MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) acquired 620 acres of critical public access and prime wildlife habitat, including elk habitat, along Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front within the boundary of the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest. RMEF then conveyed the property to the USFS.
Not only does the transaction create new public access but it improves access to more than 2,000 acres of adjacent public land.
“We appreciate the Ingersoll Ranch family for asking us and our partners to help permanently protect this important and scenic stretch of wildlife habitat,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO.
Located east of the Bob Marshall Wilderness and about 35 miles from the small town of Lincoln, the property is surrounded to the south and west by the Helena National Forest while Bureau of Land Management land is immediately to the east. It is dominated by ponderosa pine and features small grass meadows, aspen groves and holds springs that serve as headwaters for Green Creek and the Middle Fork of the Dearborn River.
“This land provides crucial year-round habitat for elk, mule deer, whitetail deer and other species, plus it lies within the Continental Divide Grizzly Bear Recovery Area,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “It is also important to hikers since it contains a portion of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail and is within the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail corridor.”
The U.S. Forest Service, with the support of RMEF, secured Land and Water Conservation Funds for this acquisition.
“The Green Mountain National Trails property will perpetually benefit the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail and the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. The U.S. Forest Service moved the Continental Divide Trail off of this parcel when it was under private ownership so the public could still use it, but crews will soon restore it to its correct and historic route,” said Bill Avey, Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest supervisor. “On behalf of the American public, the Forest Service thanks the RMEF and the Ingersoll family.”
“We at Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail are very pleased to have this property in the public trust for conservation and recreation purposes,” said Dan Wiley, National Park Service chief of Integrated Resources Stewardship. “Visible from Lewis and Clark Pass and the ancient ‘Road to the Buffalo,’ it is of high historic value. We feel this acquisition provides and insures connectivity for natural systems and future generations of people.”
In addition to the Ingersoll Ranch family, RMEF is proud to work with the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest to protect this important habitat.