The Bureau of Land Management is working towards obtaining 13,000 acres of private lands within the Lower Blackfoot River watershed, through a cooperative agreement with The Nature Conservancy.

BLM spokesman Charles Bridgeman explained the process.

“TNC (The Nature Conservancy) does this all over the country,” said Bridgeman. “They see lands that have a possibility of being turned over for public use to one of the governmental agencies, and so they’re purchase it and hold it until a partner government agency can hopefully pick it up. Of course, we don’t have the money; it has to be allocated every year (through the Land and Water Conservation Fund) so it’s kind of a risk on their part, but so far we’re continuing to move the project forward.”

BLM spokeswoman Lonna Sandau further explains the financial arrangements to obtain the land piece by piece as funds allow.

“We have money right now that was allocated with what is called the Sportsman’s Access, LWCF funding for about $3 million, so we’re hoping that between 4,200 and 4,500 acres can be obtained,” said Sandau. “We hope to close on that land later this year, that’s FY 19. The others will be in stages as we get funding.”

According to a BLM press release:

Made famous by Norman Maclean’s classic story collection, “A River Runs Through It,” the Lower Blackfoot winds its way through the mountains and Potomac Valley outside of Missoula. The Blackfoot River’s waters are cold and fast with many deep spots, which makes it an ideal habitat for several trout species. The river is also a destination for many floaters, and excellent big game hunting opportunities abound in the area.

The BLM has been laying the groundwork for this acquisition of approximately 13,000 acres, located in the Belmont Creek area 25 miles northeast of Missoula, for several years.


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