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Gifts of Conservation

Steel Creek Ranch

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This 2,013 acre property encompasses a rich mosaic of habitat that supports a stunning diversity of wildlife ranging from moose and gray wolves to Greater Sage-grouse and Arctic grayling. On the ranch, sage brush steppe is interspersed with a series of wetlands and freshwater streams. Recent subdivision and development nearby had threatened to pinch off an essential seasonal migration route for pronghorn moving between the Pioneer Mountains to the east and the Big Hole valley bottom to the west.  Conservation of the ranch preserves a last, narrow pathway (less than one half mile wide!) for these amazing creatures to reach vital seasonal range.

Steel Creek is also one of the most productive fluvial Arctic grayling spawning streams in the Big Hole Valley and has been a restoration priority for many years. In addition to its importance for maintaining a healthy native fishery, the willow habitats along Steel Creek support a wide range of amphibians, birds, insects, and mammals. Wildlife frequent the ranch including deer, elk, Bald Eagles, Ferruginous Hawks, Long-billed Curlew, Sandhill cranes, pygmy rabbits, and numerous species of ducks.

We are pleased to have been able to work with Beartooth Capital on this critical piece of the conservation puzzle in Montana’s beautiful Big Hole Valley. Beartooth is a private firm that deals in ranch properties in need of restoration and long-term conservation. Along with its partners at Montana’s department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks and the federal Natural Resource Conservation Service, the firm is actively restoring the streamside and wetland habitat on the ranch.

According to Jim Berkey, Director of the Conservancy’s Southwest Montana Program, “Beartooth’s willingness to cooperate on habitat restoration essential for the recovery of Arctic grayling and also permanently protect this land from inappropriate development with a conservation easement speaks to their strong conservation ethic. “

Download more information:   map (pdf 230 KB)      aerial photo (pdf 200 KB)

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