RMEF, Partners Open Door to 26,000 Acres of Public Access
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, in coordination with Lewis and Clark County, the Dan Barrett family, Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest and many other partners, is thrilled to announce 442 acres of prime wildlife and riparian habitat along Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front are now permanently protected and in the public’s hands.
Called the Falls Creek project, it dramatically improves access to more than 26,000 acres of public land containing prime elk habitat beyond it.
The property is primarily forestland and grassy meadows. It is located about 30 miles southwest of Augusta. Its entire eastern boundary is bordered by more than one mile of Falls Creek, including the scenic Falls Creek waterfall at the back of the acreage, while the western and northern boundaries are bordered by private lands and the Dearborn River.
“This landscape provides quality habitat for many species of wildlife including elk, whitetail deer, grizzly and black bears, and mountain lions,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “It’s also important spring, summer and fall range for elk in a hunting district (HD 422) where the population is well over the objective, in part, because gaining access has been so difficult for a long time.”
The previously inaccessible Falls Creek trailhead and trail open to the public on August 28 and will provide access for hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, horseback riding, and other non-motorized travel and recreational use.
“We are incredibly excited the county is able to contribute to the purchase of this property, and we thank the voters of Lewis and Clark County who had the foresight to approve the Land, Water and Wildlife bond more than a decade ago,” said Lewis and Clark County Commission Chair Jim McCormick. “Falls Creek is an extraordinary project, exactly the use this bond was intended for, and we know our residents will be out enjoying it this fall.”
RMEF brokered the transaction and conveyed the 442 acres to the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest.
Organizations that provided project funding include the Lewis and Clark County Open Lands Program, RMEF, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, Montana Fish and Wildlife Conservation Trust, Bass Pro Shops, The Conservation Fund, Safari Club International – Great Falls Chapter, The Conservation Alliance, and the Mule Deer Foundation. Many private individuals also contributed.
Founded over 30 years ago, fueled by hunters and a membership of nearly 235,000 strong, RMEF has conserved more than 7.4 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.