Land Board Endorses $16.5M State Plan to Buy Spotted Dog Ranch

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – The state Land Board led by Gov. Brian Schweitzer is giving its approval to a Fish, Wildlife and Parks plan to buy a 28,000-acre ranch near Deer Lodge for hunting, fishing and recreation.

The Land Board unanimously endorsed the idea Monday.

The $16.5 million to buy and maintain the Spotted Dog Ranch would come from the state Natural Resource Damage Program, which manages money aimed at replacing resources lost to mining in the region.

Supporters say it is a chance for the state to own a big chunk of grassland elk habitat. Opponents say the ranch is a misuse of the money, or argue the state should not buy more land.

A few more hurdles remain before it is approved. The governor gets the final say after two more advisory councils examine the deal later this month.