Press Release
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Provides Additional Public Comment Opportunities on Proposed Missouri Headwaters Conservation Area
Media Contacts

DENVER, Co. - In response to public requests, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is extending the public scoping period for the proposed Missouri Headwaters Conservation Area to November 27, 2023. The public scoping period will determine public interest, identify issues that require further analysis, and gather insight on a proposal to create a Missouri Headwaters Conservation Area in Beaverhead County and portions of Madison, Deer Lodge, Jefferson and Silver Bow counties, Montana. If created, the Conservation Area could authorize the Service to work with willing sellers to acquire up to a proposed 250,000 acres of conservation easements within the proposed Conservation Area boundary (see map).

The Service is also adding a fourth public meeting in Butte, MT on October 23, 2023.

Upon completion of the public scoping phase, the Service will determine next steps, which may include development of a Land Protection Plan to establish the Conservation Area and would include additional opportunities for public input.

Conservation easements protect wildlife habitat, open space, and working lands into the future and help preserve the rural way of life, including ranching. Acquisition of conservation easements would be voluntary and would occur over decades as funds are available and allocated. The Service would use federal Land and Water Conservation Fund dollars to purchase easements within the Conservation Area. These funds are derived from federal offshore oil and gas leasing and are not taxpayer dollars. No fee-title acquisition would be authorized.

The primary objectives of the proposed project include preserving important wildlife habitat and migration corridors and allowing properties to be managed for agricultural use. For more information, visit

The proposed project area is a stronghold for wildlife that has disappeared from much of their historic range and is the centerpiece for connectivity between the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the Crown of the Continent, and the wilderness of central Idaho. In particular, the proposed project area includes high-priority connectivity and movement corridors for wide-ranging species such as grizzly bear, pronghorn, elk, mule deer and bighorn sheep. The proposal will use conservation easements to protect wildlife habitat and help maintain this connectivity between protected blocks of habitat on public and private conservation lands.

The scoping period began on September 20 and now ends on November 27, 2023.

The Service is also hosting four open-house meetings in southwestern Montana where the public can learn more about this proposed project and provide written comments on the proposal. The open houses will be:

  • October 10, 6-8 pm, in Wisdom at the Community Center,Wisdom, MT 59761
  • October 11, 6-8 pm in Dillon at the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation Office, 840 North Montana St., Dillon, MT 59725
  • October 12, 6-8pm in Alder at the Fire House, 29 Upper Ruby Road, Alder, MT 59710
  • October 23, 6-8pm in Butte at the Butte-Silver Bow Public Archives Building, 17 W. Quartz St, Butte, MT 59701

For more information about the public meetings, please contact Ben Gilles, Refuge Manager (, 406-217-2287) or Jamie Hanson, Conservation Planner (

Please submit official written comments to:

  • Mail: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Attn: Ben Gilles, 922 Bootlegger Trail Great Falls, MT 59404
  • Email:

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information, visit, or connect with us through any of these social media channels: Facebook, X (formerly known as Twitter), Flickr, and YouTube.