Big Sky Roundup

Gianforte announces more access to lower Yellowstone River after land deal

By: - November 20, 2023 4:45 pm

Gov. Greg Gianforte speaking to public access and infrastructure upgrade opportunities in the Lower Yellowstone River Corridor in June 2021 (Photo courtesy of the Montana Office of the Governor).

Gov. Greg Gianforte announced on Monday the state’s purchase of 328 acres of riparian habitat along the Lower Yellowstone River, boosting public access for Montanans.

“For too long, public access to the Lower Yellowstone River has been a challenge for anglers, floaters, hunters, and hikers alike. That’s why we’ve made boosting public access along the Lower Yellowstone a top priority,” Gianforte said. “Our new North Wildcat Coulee Wildlife Management Area will unlock Montanans’ access to a coveted stretch of the Lower Yellowstone and conserve critical wildlife habitat. A product of the bottom-up, grassroots approach of our Lower Yellowstone River Corridor Advisory Committee, this project is another example of what we can get done when we work together.”

The Montana Land Board, of which Gianforte is the chairman, approved the purchase of a 328-acre parcel east of Forsyth to create the North Wildcat Coulee Wildlife Management Area on Monday.

Providing public access to 2.2 miles of the Lower Yellowstone River, the area is home to native vegetation and diverse wildlife, including mule and white-tailed deer, Merriam’s turkey, waterfowl, ring-necked pheasant and sharp-tailed grouse.

The acquisition came at the recommendation of the Lower Yellowstone River Corridor Advisory Committee, a citizen group which the governor and FWP convened in 2021 to boost public access on the Lower Yellowstone.

Working with legislators in 2021, Gianforte secured $4 million in funding to increase public access in the Lower Yellowstone River Corridor.

At the governor’s direction, FWP mapped access deserts on every navigable river in Montana, including the Lower Yellowstone, to inform the state’s strategies to increase access to waterways.

The property will not open until after the transaction is completed and FWP has prepared it for public access.


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