Land and Water Conservation Fund Pays Dividends for Public Lands

BLM acquires Montana parcel from The Nature Conservancy


National Office

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WASHINGTON - In keeping with the Biden-Harris administration’s America the Beautiful initiative to collaboratively conserve 30% of the Nation’s lands and waters by 2030, this Earth Day the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is celebrating a significant acquisition of land in Montana from The Nature Conservancy, another example of the Land and Water Conservation Fund working on behalf of the American people.

On April 6, the BLM used $6.8 million from the Fund to purchase the 4,600-acre Ninemile Prairie parcel from The Nature Conservancy to ensure permanent public access to former industrial timber land about 30 miles east of Missoula. The Ninemile parcel is part of the 1.5-million-acre Blackfoot River Watershed project, a cooperative effort of federal, state, and private land managers to ensure the continued health and resilience of ecological and human communities, and to improve public access to an area that offers high-quality hunting and hiking as well as limited summer and winter motorized use.

The area is also important habitat for grizzly bears, Canada lynx, bull trout, Westslope cutthroat trout and other species. Since 1998, the BLM has acquired approximately 36,800 acres of former private timber land in the Blackfoot River watershed from The Nature Conservancy. This month’s acquisition furthers the mutual goals of protecting the watershed and improving public access. The BLM plans to purchase the adjacent Woodchuck parcel later this year.

“Collaborative, locally led efforts like this multi-year project in the Blackfoot River Watershed are important to our well-being and economy,” said BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning. “This acquisition is a testament to the ongoing value of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and a wonderful example of President Biden’s America the Beautiful initiative in action.”

The Land and Water Conservation Fund invests revenues from offshore energy development to help strengthen communities, preserve history, and protect the nation’s natural treasures. In 2020, Congress passed the Great American Outdoors Act, which provides permanent funding of $900 million annually to the Fund, to be allocated to the BLM, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, USDA Forest Service, and state and local governments to support conservation, recreation, and other projects that enhance management of and access to public lands, waters, and resources.

“From the beginning, our goal in buying this former Plum Creek timber land was to secure it for public use and to restore the forests so we pass it on in better condition than when we bought it,” said The Nature Conservancy Montana State Director Amy Croover. “Congress’s support for the Land and Water Conservation Fund through the Great American Outdoors Act provides the certainty that makes conservation successes like this a reality and ensures there will be many more in the future. We are grateful for our ongoing partnership with the BLM that enables us to collectively protect and enjoy these beautiful and productive landscapes for generations to come.”

Some of the lands acquired using the Land and Water Conservation Fund can be viewed on the BLM web map. These and other projects are part of the BLM’s mission to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.