Ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Elk Winter Range and Recreational Access for Public Expanded in Montana

Below is a news release from The Conservation Fund announcing the addition of more acreage to a wildlife management area in west-central Montana. RMEF contributed funding to assist with the project.


ANACONDA, Mont. (Nov. 24, 2014) – The Conservation Fund and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) announced today the protection and addition of 640 acres to the Garrity Mountain Wildlife Management Area (WMA) west of Anaconda, Montana. This project was made possible with funding from the Natural Resource Damage Protection Program, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF), FWP and the Montana Fish and Wildlife Conservation Trust

The land, which features windswept grassy hillsides, natural ponds and a portion of one of the largest aspen stands in the Upper Clark Fork River basin, provides critical wintering and calving grounds for elk and will provide new public access to the northeastern section of the WMA. 

“We can’t thank the funding partners enough for making this project happen,” said Ray Vinkey, FWP Wildlife Biologist. “And most of all we want to acknowledge the leadership and support of the Anaconda Sportsmen’s Club and residents in the local area who brought this property to our attention and encouraged our efforts from start to finish. This is truly a community achievement.”

The Conservation Fund, a national organization dedicated to creating land and water protection strategies that balance environmental stewardship with economic vitality, purchased the property in March 2014. FWP used funding from the Natural Resource Damage Protection Program, its Habitat Montana Program and the Montana Fish and Wildlife Conservation Trust to acquire the acreage from the Fund on November 17. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation also provided strategic funding to help preserve this priority landscape from future development. 

“Wild and beautiful places like this define our state’s natural character,” said Gates Watson, Montana state director of The Conservation Fund. “We are pleased to assist the state in the protection of this vital habitat for the benefit of both wildlife and people, and we thank the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Montana Fish and Wildlife Conservation Trust for their support.” 

“We are pleased to join with our partners in protecting and conserving this vital habitat for elk and other wildlife,” said Blake Henning, RMEF vice president of lands and conservation. “It's part of RMEF's continuing commitment that included a $100,000 pledge in the past toward much needed noxious weed treatments, fence removal and other habitat work on the WMA.”

The public will be able to access the property from a county road just west of Anaconda. Public use regulations will be consistent with existing rules on the Garrity Mountain WMA, which provide for recreational use including hunting, while simultaneously conserving the natural resources for which the property was purchased.

“The purchase is a valuable addition to the existing Garrity Mountain WMA due to its exceptional winter range and aspen stands,” said Gregory Mullen, environmental specialist with the Montana Department of Justice, Natural Resource Damage Program. “We want to thank the many stakeholders in this effort, including The Conservation Fund, Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, Anaconda-Deer Lodge County, and the many Anaconda citizens from various conservation groups who all worked together to bring this very accessible property into public use.”

“This is a great addition to the Garrity Mountain WMA because it provides critical habitat required by our local populations of elk, deer, and moose during the late winter and early spring months,” said Chris Marchion of the Anaconda Sportsmen Club. “This property complements our existing public lands and provides valuable access for outdoor recreation in the summer and fall months. The Club is thankful for the support of Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Montana Fish and Wildlife Conservation Trust, Skyline Sportsmen, Montana Wildlife Federation, and our local county government, as well as the many citizens that spoke in favor of this project.”

Rising from 6,800 to over 8,044 feet in elevation, Garrity Mountain’s grassy hills provide ideal winter foraging habitat for elk, mule deer and big horn sheep, while pockets of timber offer shelter and thermal cover. These scenic wildlife habitats of the now 10,115-acre WMA offer unique recreational experiences for hunting, hiking, bird watching and wildlife viewing. 

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