The Glasgow Courier - Serving Proudly As The Voice Of Valley County Since 1913

By Georgie Kulczyk
The Courier 

Nature Conservancy Creates Easement of Nearly 16,000 acres on the Northern Plains

Ranching and Wilderness Study Area to Benefit


The Nature Conservancy recently secured a conservation easement on 15,959 acres of land north of Glasgow on the Carroll ranch. The easement, which encompasses all of the private lands along the northern border of the Bitter Creek Wilderness Study Area, will help conserve of one of the most intact grasslands on the continent. The Bitter Creek Wilderness Study Area is the largest proposed grassland wilderness in the Great Plains.

The easement and surrounding public lands comprise 21 miles of habitat and are predominantly grasslands, but also include streamside woodland, wetlands, wooded draws, and badlands.

According to the Nature Conservancy, native grasslands provide an invaluable habitat for a number of declining grassland birds. This region of Montana supports the country’s largest populations of four songbirds: Sprague’s pipit, Baird’s sparrow, McCown’s longspur, and chestnut-collared longspur, as well as the longest migratory population of greater sage grouse.

The regions draws and coulees provide important winter cover for mule deer, while pronghorn, swift fox, badger and other prairie wildlife are year-round residents.

This is the third easement that landowner Sterling Carroll has placed on his land around Bitter Creek.

To date, the Conservancy has worked with ranch owners to conserve 37,000 acres of land around Bitter Creek.

Securing easements ensures that ranches can continue to be profitable through on-going livestock grazing and ranch operations, while maintaining the native grassland.

Partners in the project included the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) through their Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), and The Conservation Fund, which both provided financial support for this project.

ACEP provides financial and technical assistance to help conserve agricultural lands and wetlands, while the Conservation Fund seeks to create solutions that make environmental and economic sense.


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