A ranching family has placed a conservation easement on 640 acres of elk habitat next to the Spotted Dog Wildlife Management Area east of Garrison.
“This is a critical transaction because of surrounding private land on the east and west,” said Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation land and conservation vice president Blake Henning. “One parcel of that land is already subdivided and being sold as small ranchettes while the other is receiving development pressure to do the same.”
The Dan Feihrer family made the deal with RMEF to protect habitat that elk use three seasons of the year, along with mule deer, mountain lion, grouse, moose, wolverine, gray wolf, and occasional black bears and grizzlies.
Known as Dave Gulch, the land sits at 6,000 feet elevation in a mixture of ponderosa pine, Douglas fir and grassland.
The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks acquired 27,616 acres of neighboring ranch land in a 2010 transaction that consolidated access to another 10,260 acres of public school trust land. Stretching between Garrison, Avon and Deer Lodge, the area is one of the largest undeveloped foothills areas in western Montana.
Reporter Rob Chaney can be reached at 523-5382 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.