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Montana news about the environment, natural resources, wildlife, climate change and more.

Over 300 acres of Big Hole River wetlands get transferred to the U.S. Forest Service

Locals call the Big Hole the "Last Best River". It's undammed, wild and trout heaven for fishing enthusiasts, but it's also vulnerable to warming.
Meera Subramanian

Over 300 acres of wetland meadows in the Big Hole River have been transferred to the U.S. Forest Service for permanent conservation.

The Clemow Cow Camp was purchased by the Western Rivers Conservancy in 2022. It is the second property in the watershed the conservancy has transferred to the service this month.

Located south of Wisdom, the Clemow Cow Camp contains two high mountain creeks that eventually drain into the Big Hole River. The river has been hit hard by high temperatures and low flows, pushing its trout populations to historic lows.

The Forest Service will now attempt to put its two new acquisitions to work boosting water levels in the river. That includes managing both properties’ water rights to flood irrigate meadows during the spring, so water can slowly seep back into the river in the summer.

John joined the Montana Public Radio team in August 2022. Born and raised in Helena, he graduated from the University of Montana’s School of Media Arts and created the Montana history podcast Land Grab. John can be contacted at
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