Saving Montana’s Meeteetse Spires
February 3, 2010
Meeteetse Spires. Photo by Design Pics Inc.
Red Lodge, MT – The Conservation Fund and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), with key bipartisan support from the Montana congressional delegation, announced today the completion of the second and final phase of a land conservation project that adds a total of 560 acres to the Meeteetse Spires Area of Critical Environmental Concern.
“We applaud the Bureau of Land Management and our congressional delegation for getting this project to the finish line,” said Gates Watson, director of The Conservation Fund’s Montana office. “This property has great conservation, recreational and scenic values, and its preservation will benefit current and future generations of Montanans.”
Located about six miles south of Red Lodge in Carbon County, the property contains unique rock formations that jut out from the eastern slopes of the Beartooth Mountains, drawing visitors and nature photographers from across the state and country. This dramatic landscape also provides a home for a variety of wildlife, including grizzly bears, moose, mountain lions and gray wolves, and a rare flowering plant, the Shoshonea pulvinata, which exists in only three locations in Montana and fewer than 12 locations globally.
Preserving this land gives the public expanded recreational access for hiking, hunting, camping, skiing and more, as it will connect to surrounding BLM lands and the adjoining Custer National Forest.
“We want to thank The Conservation Fund and the Montana congressional delegation for making the acquisition of this property a reality,” said Jim Sparks, Billings field manager for the Bureau of Land Management. “The public and environmental benefit from this purchase is immeasurable.”
The Conservation Fund purchased the entire property in June 2009 with the intent that the BLM would purchase it in phases, as it obtained funding. Senator Max Baucus, Senator Jon Tester and Congressman Denny Rehberg championed this project in Congress and secured all of the funding for BLM’s purchase, through two annual appropriations from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The Land and Water Conservation Fund receives revenue from offshore oil and gas drilling. Congress makes annual appropriations for projects that meet the criteria and have public support. With the first round of funding, BLM purchased 300 acres from The Conservation Fund in November 2009. The second round of funding allowed BLM to purchase the remaining 260 acres earlier this month.
“I’m committed to protecting Montana’s outdoor heritage, and this land conservation project does just that by protecting unique natural habitats and expanding outdoor recreational opportunities for Montanans to enjoy for years to come,” said Senator Baucus. “The Meeteetse Spires project is an example of the good that comes from working together and I want to thank The Conservation Fund and the Bureau of Land Management for helping to get this done.”
“Montanans benefit from investments like this because we value clean water and public access to good places for fishing, hunting and camping,” said Senator Tester. “This will go a long ways toward making sure this area will be enjoyed by all of us, our kids and our grandkids.”
“The Meeteetse Spires region is one of the most spectacular areas in Montana and every year it’s enjoyed by thousands of folks from all over the world,” said Congressman Rehberg, a member of the House Appropriations Committee. “It’s also an area of preferred habitat for just about every species of wildlife in Montana. With the remarkable landscape and the abundant wildlife, preserving this area will pay great dividends by ensuring that our children and grandchildren will be able to enjoy this area tomorrow as much as we do today.”
About The Conservation Fund
At The Conservation Fund, we combine a passion for conservation with an entrepreneurial spirit to protect your favorite places before they become just a memory. A hallmark of our work is our deep, unwavering understanding that for conservation solutions to last, they need to make economic sense. Top-ranked, we have protected more than 7 million acres across America.