More than 5,000 acres of land in the Blackfoot Valley north of Potomac has been transferred from private ownership to the Bureau of Land Management. The Nature Conservancy Thursday finalized the sale of former Plum Creek timber land to the BLM.
Bebe Crouse is a spokesperson for the Nature Conservancy in Bozeman:
"Well I think what it does is put it into public ownership, and that’s going to protect the public access of that land for a long time," Crouse says. "It also connects it with some adjacent BLM land within that Blackfoot River corridor.
This was the first transfer in the Conservancy’s more than 117,000 acre Clearwater-Blackfoot Project, which consists of large forest land tracts. The aim of the project is to continue moving formerly private timber lands to public ownership.
Some local ranching will continue on the 5,500 acres, though Crouse maintains the transfer has bigger implications:
"There will be some grazing leases that will continue that have been there for quite a long time," Crouse says, "but basically by keeping the public access, it won’t be cut up into subdivisions, for example, if it were sold to a private owner, and that’s what could have happened under the Plum Creek ownership.
The Nature Conservancy also plans to manage the land to prevent wildfires.