BLM issues decision on Left Coulee Access
By Moosetrack Megan

Posted: April 28, 2024

SOUTH BLAINE COUNTY, Mont. – Bureau of Land Management officials signed a Decision Record and Finding of No Significant Impact for a travel plan amendment opening a 0.6-mile primitive road in the Left Coulee area of the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument’s Bullwhacker region, providing legal public motorized and mechanized access to that area.

In 2023, the Square Butte Grazing Association and Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks finalized a Public Access Land Agreement (PALA) through a private parcel along Cow Creek. The BLM conducted an environmental analysis to consider potential effects of opening of the 0.6-mile primitive road connecting the now publicly accessible road on private property with 51 miles of existing BLM roads in the Bullwhacker area. The BLM road segment extends south from the private parcel to the Left Coulee Airstrip where it meets BLM road 241215. No engineered road-construction activities will be conducted.

“We are pleased to be able to restore motorized access to the Bullwhacker area,” said Monument Manager Zane Fulbright. “Left Coulee access will be open June 16 through Nov. 30.”

The seasonally open alternative was selected to protect the objects of the Monument including sage-grouse and big game species during critical periods including breeding and winter. Additionally, erosion is anticipated to be more severe if the route were used during the wetter winter and spring months, causing ruts and the need for more regular maintenance to protect resources.

“This is a primitive road, so we still advise visitors to use caution,” Fulbright said. “If the conditions warrant it, we may also need to close the road during that open period to protect the objects of the Monument and to mitigate hazardous conditions.”

More than 150 individuals and organizations provided comment on the Left Coulee access proposal. Those comments were used to strengthen the analysis leading to the decision to seasonally open the Left Coulee route.

“We anticipate working with our partners to ensure the success of this decision, namely, updating the signage in the Bullwhacker area and defining the open, closed and limited routes in the Monument,” said Fulbright.

The Decision Record, EA and supporting documents are available on the e-Planning website at

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