BILLINGS – Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is asking for public comments on a proposal to buy 5,677 acres that would provide critical wildlife habitat and public access to the Snowy Mountains in Golden Valley County.
The comments will help FWP measure public interest and support for the proposal and identify potential issues that would require further analysis. They also could provide insight for refining the proposal or developing alternatives.
The property, north of Ryegate, encompasses short-grass prairie, foothill and mountain habitats and is home to elk, mule deer, white-tailed deer, pronghorns, black bears and other native species. It includes critical winter range as well as year-around habitat. The property, which is being offered to FWP by the private property owner, lies north of Judith Gap Road and west of East Red Hill Road.
The property, known as the Big Snowy Mountains Wildlife Management Area, is one contiguous block that would provide critical public access to more than 95,000 acres of public land, including the federal Bureau of Land Management’s 6,936-acre Twin Coulee Wilderness Area and the U.S. Forest Service’s 88,696 Big Snowies Wilderness Study Area. Many properties along the Big Snowy and Little Snowy mountains have undergone ownership changes in recent years that have limited public access to the adjacent public lands.
FWP’s primary management purpose for the property would include enhanced wildlife habitat and compatible public recreation, including hunting and wildlife watching, while increasing access to outdoor recreation opportunities in the Big Snowy Mountains.
FWP is partnering with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation in the proposal.
The scoping period – or time for initial public comment – runs through Sept. 19, 2020. After all comments are considered, FWP will decide whether to proceed with an environmental analysis, which would include further public comments.
Comments may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to:
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
Ashley Taylor, Wildlife Biologist
2300 Lake Elmo Dr.
Billings, MT 59105