Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks will proceed with purchase of two islands in the Yellowstone River east of Reed Point for a fishing access site and to fulfill a need for woody debris and wildlife habitat removed during cleanup of the July 1, 2011, ExxonMobil Pipeline Company oil spill at Laurel.
The 45 acres of islands currently are owned by the Montana Department of Transportation, which acquired them when it bought out a ranch as part of a plan to abandon an old bridge across the Yellowstone River. FWP has agreed to buy the islands with $54,050 from the Department of Justice Natural Resource Damage Program (NRDP).
NRDP was funded through a settlement with Exxon Mobil Pipeline Company following the July 1, 2011, rupture of petroleum pipe under the Yellowstone River at Laurel. During cleanup of the spill, crews altered riverside wildlife habitat and removed large woody debris – primarily downed cottonwood trees. Such debris is responsible for creating and maintaining islands and other natural structures that form a healthy, meandering river.
The islands will remain undeveloped. The purchase will leave island wildlife habitat intact and provide float-in opportunities for camping and other outdoor recreation.