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Lewistown Field Office
Release Date: 06/25/09
Contacts: Craig Flentie 406-538-1943    

BLM Builds Access Road to Payola Reservoir

The Bureau of Land Management’s Lewistown Field Office (LFO) recently completed building a public access road and a series of recreational improvements at Payola Reservoir.

Payola covers a little over three surface-acres of public land in a deep coulee about eight miles north-west of Winnett, Montana.  It provides a welcome stop for recreationists (hunters, fishers, picnickers and casual drivers) in a landscape that lends itself mostly to cattle, antelope, sage grouse, sharp-tailed grouse and a variety of other creatures that make their home in what most consider a dry, wind-swept, sage brush environment.  

Over the course of any year, recreationists from as far away as Missoula and Billings, as well as local residents, make their way to Payola Reservoir for a little rest and recreation.
For years, those recreationists have found their way to Payola by driving across about a mile of private property before they reached public land.   The private landowner has been very good about allowing the public to cross his property; however he is not interested in selling or allowing the BLM a right of way as a means of ensuring continued public access. 
Land managing agencies have learned (just as quickly as the public) that few opportunities can change as quickly as unsecured public access across private property.
In response to the uncertainty involving public access across private property, the LFO has increased its efforts to secure public access to public resources. Obtaining a right–of-way, exchanges with willing landowners and building new access routes entirely across public lands are the most common means of reaching this goal.     

Payola Reservoir sits on a parcel of public land that lends itself to building a new access route entirely across public land and the LFO saw this as an opportunity to build an improved, graveled road that would provide long-term, year round public access. 

After the LFO completed the planning, finished the clearances, drafted the design and secured funding, the ground work began. The new public access road was staked, equipment moved to the site and a newly excavated/crowned road began snaking its way north across public land toward Payola Reservoir.  

After the normal delays due to weather and conflicting work schedules, the end result is a new public access road (about 1.7 miles long) to Payola Reservoir that should be maintenance free for years to come.
The LFO was also able to direct a few dollars toward several noticeable improvements at the reservoir site. Recreationists are now greeted by an improved recreation area that provides a shelter, two concrete picnic tables, three fire rings, a rocked surface, and a small fenced area around the shelter to exclude livestock.
The new access road to Payola will provide public access for generations to come and the improved recreational facilities will make every visit a more pleasant experience. 
Throughout this project, several cooperators were very helpful and lent their full assistance to the effort. The LFO was able to borrow a scraper and a large dump truck from the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge, and another dump truck came from the BLM’s Butte Field Office. When the road base was nearly finished, the LFO was able to purchase gravel (for the road surface) from Petroleum County. Without this kind of cooperation, these remote projects would certainly be less feasible.

“We would also like to acknowledge a landowner and his family who live on the county road about two miles south east of Payola Reservoir. We went by their house countless times with dump trucks and a variety of equipment and every trip created dust and noise, but they never expressed any frustration with our effort. They stopped and waved every time we went by. We appreciate their patience,” offered LFO force account crew member Mike Sweeney.

Click here for pictures of the project.

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM's mission is to manage and conserve the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations under our mandate of multiple-use and sustained yield. In Fiscal Year 2013, the BLM generated $4.7 billion in receipts from public lands.

Lewistown Field Office   920 NE Main Street      Lewistown, MT 59457  

Last updated: 06-28-2012