The Tuesday afternoon ribbon-cutting ceremony added three river-front parcels of land to the BLM’s Lower Big Hole River Special Recreation Management Area. Brothers Jim and Dave Hagenbarth worked with the BLM’s Dillon Field Office to facilitate the transfer whereby they received 243 acres in exchange for nearly 100 acres added to the nation’s public-lands inventory.
At the ceremony, Jamie Connell, State Director of the Montana/Dakotas BLM, thanked everyone for helping bring the project “to the finish line.”
“If you take the time to work with the public and surrounding communities, then something like this can come to fruition,” she said. One of Connell’s top 10 priorities as State Director is improving public access to BLM-managed lands in Montana.
Beaverhead County Commissioner Tom Rice said the exchange was a “win-win for everyone involved.”
The parcels were part of the former Mantle Ranch and are located along the Big Hole River north of Dillon near the old Sodak Mill Site.
Noting that he and his brother were “stewards of the land,” Jim Hagenbarth said they were happy to work with the BLM on the deal. The land had been in the Hagenbarth family since 1940 when Jim and Dave’s father bought the ranch. Along with his family’s legacy, Hagenbarth said the land has value for Montana’s heritage. “If you walk along the river at night, you’ll realize it was just like this when Lewis and Clark came through here,” he said.
The consolidated lands will be managed for public recreation as well as protection of fish, wildlife, and riparian habitat and other uses similar to the surrounding public lands. The BLM will initiate an environmental assessment in fiscal year 2014, providing the public the opportunity to comment on how the new public lands will be used.
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