Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) and Plum Creek Timber Company signed a one-year agreement that ensures public access to nearly 500,000 acres of Plum Creek lands in west-central Montana.
The agreement places the Plum Creek acreage into FWP’s Block Management program—a cooperative program between private landowners and FWP that helps landowners manage recreation activities and provides the public with free hunting access to private land.
Access to Plum Creek lands will extend beyond the hunting season for year-round recreation opportunties.
“This agreement is a tremendous benefit to outdoor recreationists because it formalizes public access to these lands, ” said Mack Long, FWP Region 2 Supervisor. “We appreciate the opportunity to work with Plum Creek’s Tom Ray, Denny Sigars and Bill Frings to set up this partnership and get us to the point of where we are today.”
FWP will be updating maps of the Plum Creek acreage and working on the ground to enforce rules and regulations.
“Having Plum Creek as a partner in the Block Management program gives FWP the authority to enforce Plum Creek land use rules that govern things such as camping guidelines, road restrictions and woodcutting,” said Jeff Darrah, FWP R2 Warden Captain. “No changes were made to the existing rules and regulations. It just makes them more enforceable.”
FWP wardens will also help patrol the property to guard against violations of hunting regulations.
“Plum Creek recognizes the importance of collaborating with other resource management organizations to help ensure that western Montana communities have continuedaccess to our lands,” said Bill Frings, Plum Creek Senior Resource Manager for Montana. “This agreement helps ensure that communities continue to enjoy the wide range of outdoor recreation opportunities on hundreds of thousands of acres.”
The 500,000 acres include all accessible Plum Creek land in western Montana in FWP’s Region 2.
“It is important to remember that although public access is established, these lands are private, and everyone who passes through them to hunt, fish, camp or explore is a visitor,” Bart Morris, FWP R2 Block Management Coordinator added. “Demonstrating a high level of land stewardship and respect for the regulations is a very important component of maintaining access to these areas in the future.”
Hunters in northwest Montana have benefited for years from access to more than 700,000 acres of Plum Creek lands through a similar agreement, but this agreement is the first of its kind for Region 2. With this most recent arrangement, nearly all of Plum Creek’s 1.2 million acres in the state now are under the Block Management program.