GREAT FALLS — The U.S. Forest Service has purchased another 2,360 acres of the former Bair Ranch northwest of White Sulphur Springs to protect wildlife habitat and ensure public access.

The Lewis and Clark National Forest announced the purchase Tuesday.

The Forest Service has worked with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Cinnabar Foundation and Tenderfoot Trust to transfer the land from the Bair Ranch Foundation. The foundation offered 8,220 acres of private land for sale with the goal that it become publicly owned. From 2010 through 2012, the groups finished four other purchases, adding 3,400 acres of land to the Lewis and Clark National Forest.

Most of the funding has come from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, which receives royalties from offshore oil and gas drilling. The acreage was appraised at $10.7 million.

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