Brett French reports: Agreements ease access to BLM lands
By angelamontana

Posted: September 14, 2023

Public Access Land Agreements negotiated this spring by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks with the Square Butte Grazing Association has opened thousands of acres of land in Eastern Montana to easier public access. Most significant is a region south of Chinook, in Blaine County, that provides a deeper reach into the Bullwhacker Road area. Some people may remember the Bullwhacker Road through the Anchor Ranch was declared a public road years ago by the county attorney. That ruling was overturned when the ranch owners appealed. Then the ranch was sold to the Wilks brothers. They attempted to trade the ranch acreage for BLM land in the Durfee Hills, in Fergus County. That met opposition from some elk hunters who didn’t see the deal as a fair trade. The Durfee Hills are only accessible by plane or helicopter. After going back and forth, the BLM considered building its own road into the Bullwhacker area before deciding it would be too expensive. After writing an environmental assessment to reconsider the trade, the BLM eventually dropped the idea. Although driving into the region is still restricted on the BLM land, visitors can walk from the end of the PALA access road. Maps for the agreement can be found online. The grazing association also negotiated access to two regions in Petroleum County and one in Phillips County. To learn more, check out my story at

Written by Brett French | Outdoors editor | Billings Gazette Communications

(Feature photo credit: BLM via
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