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Remote MT Conservation Project Expands Recreation Opportunities

The American Prairie Reserve is expanding options for people to stay on Montana's unique grasslands. (Reid Morth/American Prairie Reserve)
The American Prairie Reserve is expanding options for people to stay on Montana's unique grasslands. (Reid Morth/American Prairie Reserve)
February 3, 2020

BOZEMAN, Mont. -- It may be winter but thoughts of sunnier days already are on people's minds in northeastern Montana.

The American Prairie Reserve, a growing, nonprofit conservation project attempting to protect Montana's grasslands, wants the public to see this unique landscape. And there are signs the public wants to see it, too.

Mike Kautz, the group's director of public access and recreation, says reservations quadrupled last year.

The conservation effort butts up against the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument. Kautz says there's a new hut system on the river.

"We've been working for a couple years now to really widen the options for people wanting to come and explore the grasslands," he states. "We have a hut that's on the Missouri River that, I think, can be a great stop for paddlers doing the wild and scenic Missouri River."

Kautz advises people to be prepared with a full tank of gas and all the supplies they need. The reserve is located in one of the most remote places in the lower 48 states. Reservations for huts and campgrounds are open for 2020.

APR's goal is to safeguard more than 3 million acres of public and private lands, stitching together areas near the Missouri Breaks and Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge.

This prairie region once was home to some of the largest mammals in North America, including bison, elk and grizzly bears. Now the group wants to bring that thriving habitat back, but Kautz notes it's important that the region remain open to the public.

"Word is getting out that these make a great place for families to go, folks looking for a chance to go out hiking, biking," he states. "They're popular during hunting season, during bird season or rifle season."

APR stewards more than 400,000 acres between Lewistown and the Fort Belknap Reservation.

Disclosure: American Prairie Reserve contributes to our fund for reporting on Endangered Species & Wildlife, Public Lands/Wilderness, Sustainable Agriculture. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - MT