June 10, 1999
Seeley Swan Pathfinder
Blackfoot-Clearwater WMA 50th
Anniversary Celebration to Take Place June 12
The Blackfoot-Clearwater Wildlife Management Area, Montana's largest state-managed WMA, will turn 50 on June 12, 1999. An eclectic group of conservation partners will celebrate the anniversary by holding a public ceremony on the property.
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the WMA, project partners from throughout the state have been working to conserve key wildlife habitat within the WMA by transferring it into public ownership. This spring, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Plum Creek Timber Company, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Five Valleys Land Trust, Blackfoot-Clearwater Wildlife Management Area Citizens Advisory Council, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service and Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation hope to complete phase I of a four-phase, 7,800-acre acquisition of the core wildlife wintering grounds in the area.
"Through this partnership, Montanans are working to keep the Blackfoot-Clearwater Wildlife Management Area intact for wildlife and future generations of wildlife enthusiasts. We are deeply indebted to a visionary group of land management and conservation predecessors who recognized the importance of the area more than a half-century ago and set it aside for wildlife in and around the Bob Marshall Wilderness," said John Firebaugh, FWP regional wildlife manager and master of ceremonies for the anniversary celebration. Firebaugh will welcome and introduce speakers from various project cooperators on the 12th including Pat Graham, director of Montana fish, Wildlife and Parks, Mike Covey, vice president of resources for Plum Creek, and Gary Wolfe, president and CEO of the Elk Foundation.
One of the first properties to be acquired in Montana's wildlife management area system, the Blackfoot-Clearwater WMA has historically benefited from cooperative management agreements between state agencies and the private landowners that control more than 70 percent of the 67,000-acre property.
"Plum Creek places a high value on cooperation and partnership with public and private neighbors. We look forward to accomplishing these land transfers that will benefit our company and public resources," said Covey.
By facilitating negotiations to transfer the property to public ownership, Wolfe hopes that, "the Elk Foundation will help ensure the integrity of the area's key winter habitat by alleviating current development pressures that are making it increasingly hard for private landowners to balance divergent management goals on the game range."
In conjunction with the anniversary celebration, volunteers from the Elk Foundation's Blackfoot-Clearwater chapter have organized a fair to benefit the WMA. All proceeds from the day will be directed to the 50th Anniversary Project and future management needs on the WMA. Attractions will include a variety of interpretive booths for all ages addressing hunter safety, poaching, the history of the WMA and conservation education activities for children. The Eastman World Record Elk Tour will be on display, and attendees can take a shot at FWP's DART interactive shooting system.
Beginning at 11:00 a.m., busses will shuttle attendees from a designated parking area on the Horseshoe Hills Guest Ranch to the celebration. More information and a map for the anniversary celebration can be obtained by calling (406) 523-4511.
Local artist Monte Dolack will unveil Blackfoot-Clearwater, an original acrylic painting co-commissioned by the FVLT and FWP for the 50th Anniversary project. The original will be live-auctioned at Saturday evening's RMEF Blackfoot-Clearwater Chapter banquet. Posters of the original will be on sale the day of the event for $30. A calling contest will take place in the evening to highlight the banquets events.
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is an international, non-profit conservation organization whose mission is to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife and their habitat. Founded in 1984, the Foundation now has almost 110,000 members who have helped generate $85 million to conserve and enhance more than 2.5 million acres of wildlife habitat across North America. The Elk Foundation is headquartered in Missoula, Mont.
Blackfoot-Clearwater Wildlife Management Area 50th Anniversary Celebration
Saturday, June 12, 1999
Horseshoe Hills Guest Ranch - 6190 Woodworth Rd., Greenough, MT
Five miles east of Highway 83 on Woodworth Rd.
9:00 a.m. Fair opens, wagon rides begin
10:00 a.m. Food vendor opens for service
11:00-11:45 a.m. Shuttles to ceremony site depart
12:00-1:00 p.m. 50th Anniversary celebration ceremony
2:00-3:00 p.m. Wildlife Management Area tours, shuttles return
2:00-4:00 p.m. Live music and beverages
3:30-4:30 p.m. Wildlife Management Area tours
5:00 p.m. Blackfoot-Clearwater banquet (ticket required)