Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks has completed the 10,072-acre Coal Creek Conservation Easement in Custer and Prairie counties.
The easement, which is located about 12 miles south of Terry, Mont., is adjacent to an existing conservation easement held by FWP. The easements, coupled with intermingled and adjacent public land, contribute to a large footprint of conservation and public access.
Funding for the project came from the NRCS Agricultural Lands Easements (ALE) program, and from Habitat Montana, which earmarks a portion of hunting license revenue for conservation of wildlife habitat. The value of the easement was determined by an independent appraisal. No state tax dollars were used to fund the easement, which will be administered by FWP.
“Conservation easements are 100 percent voluntary,” explained FWP Region 7 Wildlife Manager John Ensign. “In this case, the Coal Creek property lies adjacent to an easement that we completed back in the early 2000s, so the landowner was familiar with what an easement entails, and he approached us in 2016 to see if an easement might be a good fit.”
In Wildlife Biologist Melissa Foster’s view, the ranch was an excellent fit for a conservation easement.
“This is a high-value property for wildlife,” Foster said. “We are talking critical mule deer winter range, and excellent opportunity for hunters.”