Following a unanimous vote on Monday, November 19, the Montana Land Board approved the sale of the Milk River Ranch north of Havre to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) and the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC). Once that approval was given, the Montana FWP Commission subsequently voted on the acquisition, approving it in a 4 to 1 vote on Monday, December 10.
The ranch straddles the Milk River and contains approximately 4,500 acres in Hill County. FWP is purchasing 2,992 of those acres and DNRC will write the check for 1,513 of them. Pros for the acquisition for the agencies included the utilization of the ranch’s wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities. It also consolidates some state land as it is immediately adjacent to state school trust lands. However, area landowners expressed a lot of concern in allowing the government to buy up more property. Many believed that the purchase price, at $4.7 million, was too high.
Also at the FWP Commission meeting on Monday, the purchase of a 981-acre addition to the Seven Sisters Wildlife Management area along the lower Yellowstone River near Sidney was approved. The purchase price of this property was approximately $1,285,000.
Along with those two purchases, Commission members formally accepted the donation of 1,050 acres of deeded land in the Missouri Breaks. The property is approximately 13 miles SW of Big Sandy and will now be called the “Spring Coulee Wildlife Management Area.”
Last but not least, the one matter on the Commission's agenda that did not deal with acquiring land had to deal with another contentious matter – wolves. The Commission adopted an immediate closure of the wolf hunting season in two areas of deer and elk hunting district 313.
© Northern Ag Network 2012