We currently have the opportunity to grow the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument’s public land footprint, but we need your help. The BLM is seeking comments on a potential acquisition of 317 acres of land along the Wild and Scenic Missouri River in Chouteau County. If acquired, the new addition would provide access to 400 more acres of currently land-locked public land in the monument.
How we got to this point is a long story that shows the importance of the Friends and our membership for the monument’s protection and future.
Last spring, we received an email from a member of our organization asking if the Friends were aware of a land parcel for sale within the monument’s boundaries. The member wanted to see the land protected from outside development, and was considering purchasing the parcel themselves. However, they decided that a better option would be for it to be held in the public trust. At the time, we hadn’t heard a thing about the parcel. So we did a little research and realized its acquisition would be a great addition to the monument’s public land footprint. From there, we got to work.
The first step was figuring out how we could actually go about acquiring the parcel, as the cost of acquisition was more than our annual budget. Through discussions with local conservationists, we were pointed in the direction of The Conservation Fund, a national nonprofit specializing in conservation acquisitions. When we brought the parcel to their attention, local staff at The Conservation Fund did what they do best — making smart conservation acquisitions happen. The work was long and difficult, and included appraisals, negotiations and, eventually, the final acquisition.
Which brings us to the point we’re at now. While the land is now held, and thus protected for conservation, by The Conservation Fund, the end goal is to turn the parcel over to the BLM. This would allow for the parcel to be managed as public land like the rest of the monument. The BLM has opened a period of public comment on the planned acquisition, which gives you the opportunity to voice your support. Please join the Friends in voicing your support for the acquisition by visiting the BLM’s ePlanning Website before February 14th.
When writing your comment, please mention any and all time you’ve spent in the area and how this acquisition would enhance your future experiences. For specifics, don’t forget to mention the benefits of opening up, effectively, 717 acres of public land for recreation access from the river and the surrounding uplands, along with the benefits of protecting documented habitat for sage grouse and black-tailed prairie dogs and a functional one-acre cottonwood grove in the river’s riparian zone.
Without our members, the Friends likely wouldn’t have known about this parcel, and without the Friends, it’s unlikely The Conservation Fund would have been able to acquire this parcel. Now it’s up to you to complete the process. Success here might spell even more successes in the future.