The Montana Wildlife Federation commends the completion of the Horse Creek Complex conservation easement near Wibaux after two years of diligent work by the Stenson family and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. MWF thanks Gov. Steve Bullock for finalizing this easement, which permanently protects 15,000 acres of working ranchland while also guaranteeing public hunting access to nearly 20,000 acres of private and public land in perpetuity.
“It’s unfortunate that it took this long, but we’re glad Gov. Bullock, his staff, and Montana FWP got this deal done,” said Nick Gevock, MWF conservation director. “It’s vital that we continue to move forward with quality Habitat Montana projects that maintain our ranching economy, protect important wildlife habitat and open up hunting access to private lands. Montana’s hunters are extremely lucky to have such great partners like the Stenson family who generously open up their land for quality hunting opportunity.”
The Horse Creek Easement came before the State Land Board in February after unanimous approval by the Fish and Wildlife Commission. State Auditor Matt Rosendale, State Superintendent Elsie Arntzen, and Secretary of State Corey Stapleton forced the Land Board to indefinitely delay the project, despite widespread public support and the landowners’ wishes.
After legal review, the Governor’s office determined that the Land Board’s approval isn’t required for these conservation easements, just as no other easement in state statute is required to go before the Land Board.
The Horse Creek doubles the acreage of land in Wibaux County that is open to public hunting and protects some of the best mule deer hunting in eastern Montana.