American Prairie adds more Phillips County land

Property borders Fort Belknap reservation

By: - March 30, 2023 4:55 pm

A bison herd near Sun Prairie, Montana on the American Prairie Reserve. (Photography by Gib Meyers; courtesy of American Prairie Reserve)

American Prairie has purchased a wildlife and waterfowl rich property, located on the eastern border of the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation in Phillips County.

The 4,960-acre property comprises 3,075 deeded acres and 1,885 leased acres located south of Dodson, Montana.

Approximately 1,847 of the deeded acres are under a conservation easement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with the intention of protecting and promoting waterfowl habitat. In addition to Fort Belknap, the property also borders the Fish and Wildlife’s Korsbeck Waterfowl Production Area.

This latest acquisition, to be called the “Wild Horse” unit, brings American Prairie’s total deeded and leased property to more than 460,000 acres.

Current March 2023 Land Map 8.5x11

Alison Fox, chief executive of American Prairie, said the name comes from Wild Horse Creek, which is near the property and a major tributary of the Big Warm Creek system.

“This area provides critical habitat for a myriad of bird species which have suffered serious declines in recent decades, including Sprague’s pipit, chestnut-collared longspur, and mountain plover,” said Fox.

The property contains a diverse landscape of wetlands, grasslands, and gumbo soils, providing outstanding habitat value. It’s not uncommon to see large populations of mule and white-tailed deer, pronghorn antelope, upland game birds, waterfowl and prairie dogs.

“We are excited to share a fence line with our friends at the Fort Belknap Indian Community for the first time,” said Fox. “We plan to continue partnering with our Aaniiih Nakoda neighbors, many of whom share the vision of a full-functioning prairie ecosystem.”

For decades, American Prairie has been honored to build relationships and establish mutually beneficial collaborations with the community at Fort Belknap. Shared work has included wildlife and bison restoration, tourism and economic development partnerships, and the sharing and preserving of cultural heritage.

American Prairie intends to share public access details in the months ahead to spell out recreational uses on Wild Horse’s deeded acres. As it has done in the past, the organization needs to first take time to familiarize itself with the property.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.