Public comment sought on Falls Creek Acquisition

Purchase would provide new public access to 442 acres and improve access to 26,000 acres of Forest Service land along the Rocky Mountain Front.

Falls Creek

Lewis and Clark County is seeking public comment on a proposal to provide $1,000,000 through Open Lands Bond to assist Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) in purchasing private property along the Rocky Mountain Front. The purchase would provide new public access to 442 acres and improve access to approximately 26,000 acres of adjacent United States Forest Service land. The public is encouraged to provide comment until May 11.

The RMEF proposed the Falls Creek Acquisition to the Open Lands Citizen Advisory Committee in May 2018. Daniel Barrett currently owns the 442 acres located 30 miles from Augusta in Lewis and Clark County. Once purchased by RMEF, RMEF will transfer the land to the U.S. Forest Service for inclusion in the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest. This would ensure public access and permanent conservation.

The Falls Creek Acquisition has the ability to conserve strategic habitat for a variety of game and non-game species and conserve approximately two miles of in-stream habitat in the Upper Dearborn River, Falls Creek and unnamed intermittent streams. It would also protect approximately 44 acres of buffer habitat adjacent to these stretches, and secure access to one mile of Falls Creek Trail No. 229.

To date, RMEF has raised approximately $875,000 from other sources such as, Montana Fish and Wildlife Conservation Trust, U.S. Forest Service, Mule Deer Foundation, and the Safari Club International- Great Falls Chapter. All money raised will go towards the $2,460,000 purchase price.  

The Open Lands Program is funded by a voter-approved $10 million general obligation bond used to protect rivers, streams and groundwater; conserve working farm, ranch and forest lands; protect wildlife areas and preserve open lands and natural areas for recreation and growth management. To date, 12 projects have been approved and funded through this program and about $5 million remain. The Board of County Commissioners has final approval. 

Comments should be sent to:

Lewis and Clark County Community Development & Planning Department

316 N. Park Ave., Helena, MT 59602,

or emailed to Sam Neill, County Planner at sneill(at)lccountymt.gov.

A public hearing will be scheduled following the closing of this 30-day public comment period. At this public hearing, a final decision by the Board of County Commissioners may be made in regard to funding the Falls Creek Acquisition project.

Further information regarding this proposal, or other matters in respect thereof, may be obtained from Sam Neill, Planner with the Community Development and Planning Department located at 316 North Park Avenue, Helena, Montana, via an email request at sneill(at)lccountymt.gov or by phone at (406) 447-8373. Additional information can be found on the Open Lands Program at https://www.lccountymt.gov/cdp/openlands.html