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Conservation Areas

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Conservation Areas are established under the authority of the Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956. The “Conservation Area” designation simply outlines a boundary within which the USFWS may use Land and Water Conservation Fund Act funds (in addition to other funding sources) to purchase easements from willing sellers.
 

  • Blackfoot Valley Conservation Area

    Blackfoot Valley

    The Blackfoot Valley Conservation Area boundary was established in 1997. The Conservation Area is part of a conservation strategy to protect one of the last undeveloped, low-elevation river valley ecosystems in western Montana. The project area encompasses an 824,024 acre ecosystem that includes parts of Missoula, Powell, and Lewis & Clark Counties. Parts of these counties make up the Blackfoot River watershed in western Montana and include the Ovando Valley and the Helmville Valley. The Blackfoot River watershed is one of the most biologically diverse and intact landscapes in the western United States. The watershed supports an estimated 250 species of birds, 63 species of mammals, 5 species of amphibians, 6 species of reptiles, and 25 species of fish.

    As of 2011, the USFWS had obtained 43,991 acres of wetland, grassland, and conservation easements within the project area. Each individual easement has a variety of rights secured in the purchase, including protection of grasslands from being plowed; prohibiting the draining, burning, or filling of wetlands; and protection of habitats from being subdivided and developed. Easements are purchased or donated from willing sellers who maintain ownership and management of their land.

    Blackfoot Valley Conservation Area – Land Protection Plan

     

  • Rocky Mountain Front Conservation Area

    RMF

    The Rocky Mountain Front Conservation Area was established in 2006. The conservation area is part of a larger landscape conservation strategy to protect a unique, highly diverse, and mostly unfragmented ecosystem. Outside of Alaska, the Rocky Mountain Front is one of the last truly wild places in North America; virtually every wildlife species found there on the arrival of Lewis and Clark in 1806, with the exception of free-ranging bison, remains today. In addition, it is the only area in the continental United States with a complete group of carnivorous mammals including grizzly bear, gray wolf, wolverine, American marten, and Canada lynx. The conservation area is nested within the District and includes parts of Lewis & Clark, Teton, and Pondera Counties. The project area is bordered by the Bob Marshall Wilderness to the west, the Blackfeet Indian Reservation to the north, and its eastern boundary generally follows highways 89 and 287.

    As of 2011, the USFWS had protected a total of 76,847 acres through conservation easements. Each individual easement has a variety of rights secured in the purchase, including protection of grasslands from being plowed; prohibiting the draining, burning, or filling of wetlands; and protection of habitats from being subdivided and developed. Easements are purchased or donated from willing sellers, who maintain ownership and management of their land.

    Rocky Mountain Front Conservation Area – Land Protection Plan

     

  • Swan Valley Conservation Area

    Swan Valley

    The Swan Valley Conservation Area was established in 2012 as a strategy to protect one of the last undeveloped, low elevation coniferous forest ecosystems in western Montana. The Swan Valley is situated between the roadless areas of the Glacier National Park/Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex, the Mission Mountains Wilderness, and the Bitterroot/Selway Wilderness Complex to the southwest. As such, it provides an avenue of connectivity between the Canadian Rockies and the Central Rockies of Idaho and Wyoming. Unlike many other rural valleys in Montana, Swan Valley has the potential to maintain its role in connecting the surrounding landscapes; however, a combination of depressed timber markets and high recreational values of the land have recently threatened not only the connectivity for wildlife, but are also impacting the traditional rural way of life for residents of the Swan Valley.

    To date, the USFWS has protected 80 acres, which was donated as a conservation easement in 2012.

    Swan Valley Conservation Area – Land Protection Plan


     

  • Access to Conservation Easements

    In order to protect the privacy of Montana landowners, we do not publish the locations of our Conservation Easements on our website. Easement lands are private property and access remains under the control of the landowner.

  • Visit our Realty Program page for more information about how to participate in the FWS easement program.

Last Updated: Apr 26, 2013
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