Below is a 12/11/2018 news release from the U.S. Department of Interior regarding a RMEF project that permanently protected and opened access to nearly 1,000 acres of wildlife habitat in southwest Montana.
Another Conservation Win: Secretary Zinke adds 960 acres of Prime Wildlife Habitat to Montana BLM lands
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced the Bureau of Land Management has acquired lands from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation for $1,025,000 within the Little Sheep Creek watershed in Montana. This acquisition will add nearly 1,000 acres of prime wildlife habitat and improve access to 2,600 acres of adjacent public lands. Since his first day in office, Secretary Zinke has prioritized improving the habitat of iconic big game species and access to public lands for sportsmen and women.
“Elk and mule deer are some of the most iconic species of the American West, and in order to maintain healthy herds, we are putting a focus on healthy habitat through targeted acquisitions and funding research on migration corridors,” said Secretary Zinke. “These nearly 1,000 acres join millions of other acres of land we have opened up for greater hunting and fishing access. Thanks to this partnership, we are able better conserve the species and increase access for sportsmen and women. It wouldn’t have been possible without the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.”
“Little Sheep Creek is BLM and RMEF’s latest example of how the Land and Water Conservation Fund benefits the American people,” said Blake Henning, RMEF Chief Conservation Officer. “We appreciate the private landowners, and the BLM for recognizing the exceptional elk and mule deer winter range that this property hosts, and the value of opening and improving access to public lands for future generations.”
The 960-acre parcel is located in the Beaverhead Valley, five miles southwest of Lima, and about 45 minutes south of Dillon. The parcel is bordered on three sides by land managed by the BLM and the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest.
The property features high-quality winter range habitat for as many as 700 elk and 450 mule deer. It also supports moose, antelope, black bear, wolverine, Greater Sage-Grouse and other wildlife. Both West Fork Little Sheep Creek and Straight Creek cross the immediate landscape providing vital riparian habitat for fish and other aquatic species. The property also contains cabins, which the BLM may turn into year-round rental opportunities for the public.
This project is one of several collaborations involving the Montana/Dakotas BLM and the RMEF. Over the years, the two partners have worked together on 75 habitat stewardship projects, benefiting more than 97,000 acres for elk and a diverse array of other species; as well as six additional lands projects that protected more than 25,000 acres of wildlife habitat, while improving public access to nearly 85,000 acres of surrounding public lands.