Public access secured in SW Montana


Montana bull elk
Photo credit: Getty Images

Permanent public access has been secured to approximately 41,344 acres of public lands in Beaverhead County — just in time for Montana’s 2014 general big game hunting season.

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) has collaborated with a private landowner, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) and local sportsmen organizations to purchase a 30-foot wide permanent road easement that will significantly improve access to the Tendoy and Beaverhead Mountains.

The easement crosses a private ranch through two drainages in the Medicine Lodge area, approximately 35 miles southwest of Dillion.

“This strikes at the very core of our mission,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “RMEF is committed to seeking and finding avenues like this particular project to open public access for increased recreational opportunities like hunting.”

It will provide 0.16 miles of motorized access to Ayers Canyon (Hunting District 328) between the Medicine Lodge Road and BLM ownership and motorized access to Kate Creek (Hunting District 302) through two private segments of 0.29 and 0.21 miles on the northwest corner of Ellis Peak. These areas are also included in Hunting District 300 for antelope.

“These types of collaborative efforts continue to ensure that sportsmen and women have access to public lands throughout Montana,” FWP spokesperson, Ron Aasheim relayed. “Partnerships are key to FWP’s management of resources which we hold in trust for all Montanans.”

"Improving public access to encourage the public's responsible use and enjoyment of their lands and resources continues to be a high priority for BLM, both locally and nationally,” explained Cornie Hudson, BLM Dillon Field Office manager. “The partnerships that made this project possible could be a model for future access projects of this nature. Thank you partners!”

In 2013, RMEF teamed up with the BLM Dillon Field Office to complete a project that re-opened and improved public access to more than 9,355 additional acres at Cow Creek in the Medicine Lodge drainage.

“When you combine our work from last year with these two new projects, RMEF has now improved access to more than 50,000 acres of public lands in this drainage over the last two years alone,” stated Blake Henning, RMEF vice president of Lands and Conservation.

Since the mid-1980’s, RMEF has helped to secure access to more than 215,000 acres in Montana and 758,000 acres nationally across elk country for recreational activities.

General rifle season began last Saturday.


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