MISSOULA, Mont.–A 40 acre parcel of Montana forestland is now open to public access after the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation donated it to the U.S. Forest Service.
“We maintained this property for the greater part of 18 years with an agreement that the Forest Service would manage it. Though small in size, and even though it took a while, it was always on our radar to transfer it into public ownership,” said Blake Henning, RMEF vice president of Lands and Conservation. “It turned out the best way to do that was to make an outright donation.”
Located approximately 10 miles north of Missoula, the Marent Gulch property was originally gifted to RMEF in 1995. It now falls under full ownership of the Lolo National Forest, which already owns the land on its east, west and north sides.
“This generous donation from RMEF protects the open space value and scenic character visible from both the Missoula and Evaro valleys and places 40 acres of critical elk winter range into public ownership,” said Paul Matter, district ranger of the Missoula Ranger District on the Lolo National Forest. “Consolidating Forest Service ownership in this area will protect this critical habitat and provide for improved management of forest lands. In addition, this donation helps establish another entry point for members of the public to access many of the recreation activities available on our public lands here in Montana.”
The parcel is located in forestland that includes forage and rugged hillsides. It provides habitat for various native Montana wildlife including wintering elk, mule deer, mountain lion, black bear, migrating or ranging grizzly bear, and various other critters and songbirds.
The transaction also eliminates what was a potential trespassing issue.
“Eliminating corner crossing situations protects private lands from trespass and enhances access to public lands. This is a win-win situation that everyone benefits from,” added Matter.
To date, RMEF conducted more than 8,100 projects that conserved or enhanced more than 6.3 million acres nationwide.