Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is studying about 3,800 acres of grasslands and brush in the northwest foothills of the Big Snowy Mountains for a possible conservation easement.
The land is part of the Hannah Ranch, established in 1883 by Rogers Clifford. Clifford came to Montana from Maine in 1879, according to a Moore community history. Clifford bought the ranch after working in the sheep industry in the White Sulfur Springs area. He was also the president of the First National Bank in Moore.
The land is now owned by Hannah Ranch LP. The property is located in Fergus County, within Deer/Elk Hunting District 411.
FWP is preparing a draft environmental assessment analyzing the easement. As part of this, the agency invites the public to identify any issues and concerns related to this proposal by February 22. Comments received during this period will help FWP determine the public interest, identify potential issues that require further analysis, and provide information on refining the proposal or developing and analyzing alternatives.
The property adjoins and provides easy access to the Great Snowy Mountains to the west where there is currently limited public access. The primary objectives of the proposed conservation easement are to provide perpetual conservation and enhancement of high-quality native habitats, maintain traditional agricultural land uses, and provide opportunities for public access and recreation.
The ranch provides year-round habitat (including winter range) for elk, mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk, pronghorn, black bear, mountain lion, bobcats, wild turkey, wagtails sharpshooter, Hungarian partridge, pheasants, waterfowl, and a number of non-game and state species of concern, according to FWP’s proposal.
Owners receive financial compensation in exchange for adopting conservation and public access covenants while continuing to operate the ranch.
A copy of the scoping proposal is available online.
Written comments may be sent to: Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, c/o Hannah Ranch Conservation Easement Proposal, PO Box 938, Lewistown, MT 59457. Or email comments to [email protected] Attn. : Hannah Ranch Conservation Easement Proposal.