Montana has many special places that not only provide recreational opportunities for people, but also important habitat for fish and wildlife. Much can be learned about your own natural place by visiting a nearby Wildlife Management Area (WMA), State Park, and /or Fishing Access Site (FAS). Read below to learn about the properties that have been aquired for Montanans.
Beginning in the late 1940's FWP began purchasing and leasing prime winter habitat for elk. This was done in an effort to provide big game animals with a place to winter with adequate forage and seclusion from disturbance. Even though the primary purpose of WMAs is to provide wildlife habitat, these areas are also open to the public for hunting, wildlife watching, photography, and hiking. Funding to purchase, develop, and maintain these 71 sites comes from people who buy hunting licenses and purchase firearms and ammunition.
The first WMA, purchased in Montana was the Judith River Game Range. It was obtained in 1940 to provide local elk with winter range. This property was purchased from the Setter property near Utica. The Pittman Robertson Act of 1937 provides monies collected from sportsmen and women to be used for wildlife management and helped pay for this property.
Fifty state parks dot the Montana landscape. These sites have unique cultural, historical, natural, and recreational values. A few examples range from a natural cave- Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park; a dinosaur fossil bed- Makoshika State Park; to a historic prairie buffalo jump- First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park. These sites provide people with places to learn about Montana's rich historic and cultural heritage, as well as the plants and animals of the area.
Montana’s first State Park, Lewis & Clark Caverns, was obtained in 1937 to protect this natural cave for the public to enjoy. The associated bat colonies and other cave dwelling creatures came along with the deal. Learn about the other state parks and associated creatures here.
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks manages over 300 FAS located on the state's streams, rivers and lakes. These sites provide people with a way to get to our waters for fishing, boating, rafting and other water activities. FAS are also popular places for people to hunt, view wildlife, hike, picnic, and some sites (103 FAS) even allow camping. When you purchase a fishing license or fishing equipment you are contributing to this program.
Two of the first FAS were the Clearwater Crossing on the Blackfoot River and Harper's Lake. Both were acquired from Clifford Boyd on the same day in 1948. Many of these sites have been obtained using monies collected from federal legislation – the Dingell Johnson Act of 1950. This legislation collects taxes on fishing equipment and motorboat fuel. So be sure to find your favorite fishing hole at one of Montana’s FAS.