Gov. Gianforte Expands Public Access in Big Snowy Mountains

Governor's Office
  • October 17 2022

HELENA, Mont. – As chair of the Montana Land Board, Governor Greg Gianforte today welcomed the state’s purchase of nearly 5,700 acres in the Big Snowy Mountain range, providing Montanans access to over 100,000 total acres of state and federal lands.

“The state has a vested interest in seeing land conserved for wildlife habitat while also keeping ranchers on the landscape for the benefit of our communities,” Governor Gianforte said. “We married those two interests in this agreement, keeping the land available for cattle grazing while opening access for hunters to pristine wildlife habitat in the Big Snowies. This is a win-win for Montana.”

This morning, the Montana Land Board approved the purchase of a 5,677-acre ranch in Golden Valley County to create the Big Snowy Mountains Wildlife Management Area.

Currently under a cattle-grazing lease, the property is entirely native mountain/foothill and prairie grassland habitats with no farmed or crop land. It provides excellent habitat and access to the Big Snowy’s elk herd, as well as habitat for black bear, mule deer, pronghorn, and at least 22 animals listed as species of concern.

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation celebrated the decision.

“This project is an organizational priority and a tremendous victory for elk, other wildlife, conservation, public access and Montanans across the state,” said Kyle Weaver, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation president and CEO. “We’re grateful for ardent support from Governor Gianforte, the Land Board and our partners at Shodair and FWP as well as RMEF members and sportsmen and women. It’s a great day.”

At the request of the governor, Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP) proposed a covenant to the vesting deed for the property requiring the state keep the land available for cattle grazing.

The property will not open until after the transaction is completed and FWP has prepared it for public access.