In 2019, WWII veteran Forrest Allen passed away, bequeathing 5,677 acres in Golden Valley County to the Shodair Children’s Hospital. Today, as a member of the Board of Land Commissioners, I was proud to vote in favor of purchasing this land for public use. The purchase, known as the Snowy Mountain Acquisition, is a win for all Montanans and embodies our state’s spirit and generosity.
Public lands near this property have been nearly inaccessible to most Montanans for years. The acquisition provides access to hunting and recreation opportunities and provides better access to 100,000 additional acres of public lands.
For hunters, elk populations in the area are 900% higher than the state’s goal due to lack of access. This purchase allows hunters to help regulate the population, in turn reducing the risk of disease among herds and creating more opportunities to pass Montana’s hunting heritage to future generations.
Agriculture is the backbone of Montana’s economy, and this acquisition will maintain grazing leases. Through sustainable grazing across four pastures, the state will protect wildlife and the land while benefitting ranchers.
Not to be overlooked, Shodair Hospital, with the funds generated from this purchase, can better serve Montana communities and children in need of critical healthcare.
The Snowy Mountain Acquisition is truly a win for hunters, recreationists, farmers and ranchers, Shodair Hospital, and all Montanans. As Montana’s State Auditor and a member of the Board of Land Commissioners, I commend the hard work of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, the generosity of Mr. Allen, and the thoughtfulness of Shodair Hospital.
The overwhelming support for this project I received from the public, the benefits to all Montanans, and my commitment to protecting access to public lands made this decision easy. I thank everyone who was involved in making this worthwhile project possible.
Troy Downing is the Republican Commissioner of Securities and Insurance, Montana State Auditor.
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