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Miles City Field Office
Release Date: 11/14/11
Contacts: Mark Jacobsen 406-233-2831    

BLM State Director Visits Local Recreation Area

Montana/Dakotas BLM State Director Jamie Connell discussed the history of the Pumpkin Creek Ranch and Recreation Area land exchange and the status of land health with BLM staff during a recent visit to the Miles City area Nov. 9.

The Pumpkin Creek Ranch and Recreation Area is located about 15 miles south of Miles City and is composed of 20,578 contiguous acres of public land. 

Scott Hicswa, president of the local Pheasants Forever Tongue River Chapter was also with the group and provided his perspective on future collaborative efforts on habitat improvement. The group focused on the site visit to cover attending issues regarding riparian improvement projects, management planning and the current use of the area by Miles City citizens, Montanans and out-of-state residents.
According to BLM Fisheries Biologist Jake Chaffin, fisheries surveys of this stretch of Pumpkin Creek over the last two years recorded 15 different species of native fish and five exotic that utilize this stream, which empties directly into the Tongue River. Although the fish may be present at different times, they represent a significant number accessing this creek from the Tongue River system.
Earlier this year, the BLM completed a planting project which transplanted over 3,000 willow and cottonwood cuttings and several hundred buffalo berry seedlings along the creek to aid in habitat restoration and stream bank stabilization.
Range and riparian conditions are steadily on the upswing and a variety of wildlife types continue to make use of the area. Some locales are somewhat marginal for species such as sage grouse, yet other birds like sharptail grouse are well represented, said BLM Biologist Kent Undlin.
Deer and antelope continue to make use of the area and hunters are finding them; a fact attested to by a pickup truck with Oregon plates that pulled past the group, toting a four-point mule deer buck in the bed.
“From a habitat standpoint, its improving,” said Undlin. “We’ve got a good opportunity to make something happen for wildlife.”
According to Undlin, the area has approximately 1,500 acres being utilized by prairie dogs, but only about a third of that is currently active, likely due to the prevalence of plague. One bald eagle nest is also on site; however it has been vacant for a couple of seasons.
Pheasants Forever is one of several conservation organizations such as the National Wild Turkey Federation and the Mule Deer Foundation who have come forward and worked with the BLM Miles City Field Office on improving conditions for both game and non-game species in eastern Montana.
Hicswa detailed some of his recommendations to transition marginal upland bird habitat to more-ideal types and compositions needed to foster an improved situation for pheasant. He expressed a willingness to continue partnering with the BLM. Pheasants Forever is currently working with the BLM on another project located at the Matthews Recreation Area, east of Miles City.
“We really feel that improving cover is vital. If you build it, they’ll come,” said Hicswa. “We see a real opportunity to help build a wildlife complex down there (in the riparian zone).”
For more information regarding the Pumpkin Creek Ranch and Recreation Area, contact the BLM Miles City Field Office at 233-2800.

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 sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. In Fiscal Year 2015, the BLM generated $4.1 billion in receipts from activities occurring on public lands.

Miles City Field Office   111 Garryowen Road      Miles City, MT 59301  

Last updated: 06-28-2012