MISSOULA — A federal land agency has purchased a large area of Montana land from a state conservation organization increasing the amount of public ownership in the region.
The Missoulian reported Tuesday that the Bureau of Land Management signed paperwork this week to purchase 20 square miles (52 square kilometers) in the Lower Blackfoot River corridor just east of Missoula.
Federal officials say money from the Land and Water Conservation Fund was used to purchase the land with future plans to acquire additional areas by the end of 2020.
Officials say the goal is to reach 94 square miles (243 square kilometers) in the Blackfoot drainage and return formerly public lands that were given away decades ago.
Officials say any additional purchases will have to go through a federal review process.