UPDATE: In January 2014, an additional 2,194 acres were placed under easement on the Carroll ranch bringing the total of land conserved to 9,194 acres!
Declining grassland birds, pronghorn, and swift fox are among the animals that will benefit from the purchase of two conservation easements - totaling 9,194 acres - on the Carroll property on Montana’s Northern Prairie. These easements cover high quality mixed-grass prairie and adjoin one of Montana’s largest proposed prairie wildernesses, the Bitter Creek Wilderness Study Area. This study area has also been designated by the Bureau of Land Management as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern.
When we think of wilderness, an image of craggy mountain peaks often comes to mind, yet this remote rangeland may see fewer people than places in the well-known Bob Marshall Wilderness. This easement ensures that intact habitat will remain for both pronghorn and Greater Sage-grouse, which depend on this land for their twice-yearly migrations. In the case of the Sage-grouse, this area is in the heart of a migratory path of the birds’ longest journey – more than 100 miles each way. The federal government determined that both Greater Sage-grouse and Sprague’s Pipit meet the criteria for being threatened species, but precluded that action until 2014. These Sage-grouse are also Canada’s last sustainable population, making their conservation of international concern.
Similarly declining birds that depend on this land include Chestnut-collared Longspurs, Baird’s Sparrows, Lark buntings, and Long-billed Curlews. Other Species of Concern that find refuge here are the tiny swift fox and regal Ferruginous Hawk.
We want to thank the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service for providing some of the funding for purchase of this easement.