This West Is OUR West

Private Inholdings in Montana to Become Public Land

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Oct 23, 2018

MISSOULA, Mont. - The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation acquired 1,120 acres of prime elk habitat in western Montana that are now both permanently protected and open to public access. The parcels, previously private inholdings, were conveyed to and are now managed by the Lolo National Forest (LNF).

“We are grateful that Stimson Lumber Company recognized the wildlife values of this land and reached out to us to help conserve it,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO.

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Located about 15 miles west of Missoula, the property lies within the Ninemile Ranger District on the LNF. It is just a few miles from previous RMEF projects that conserved more than 1,000 acres of wildlife habitat.

“This new Edith Peak project is especially important because the surrounding land is part of a wildlife movement corridor connecting the Ninemile Divide with the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem to the north and the Fish Creek area and the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness to the south,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer.

The surrounding area features spring, summer and fall range and supports more than 500 elk. It is also includes key habitat for deer, moose, bear and other bird and animal life, plus it includes springs that provide important riparian habitat.

“The addition of these two inholdings through the Land and Water Conservation Fund will allow the Forest to seamlessly manage the National Forest in this area to improve the condition of the forest while also enhancing recreation opportunities,” noted Joe Alexander, Lolo National Forest acting forest supervisor.

Alexander also mentioned his sincere appreciation to the RMEF for its contributions and support to the Forest Service in securing these lands.

Additionally, the project permanently secures public access to the U.S. Forest Service Edith Peak trail that will be uninterrupted as it traverses across the property.