Conservation partners in the Prairie Pothole Region of Montana, also referred to as the “Hi-Line”, have been delivering conservation for almost 30 years. Over the last 19 years, five NAWCA grants have been secured, and the partnership including the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, The Nature Conservancy, Ducks Unlimited, and a host of private landowners have conserved over 107,000 acres of grassland and wetland habitat.
The most recently approved NAWCA grant, “Montana Hi-Line Prairie Wetland Project –Phase V” will conserve at least 7,093 acres of critical wildlife habitat over the next three years. Leading the list of Phase V projects is an acquisition located along the Milk River in Phillips County. Ducks Unlimited purchased the 245-acre tract in 2013 and transferred the parcel to the USFWS in 2014 as an addition to the McNeil Slough Waterfowl Production Area. The parcel is a key component in protecting and restoring the Milk River corridor, which includes parcels owned and managed by USFWS, Bureau of Land Management, the state of Montana, and private landowners. Additionally, the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service is currently working on a Wetland Reserve Easement with a private landowner immediately west of the acquisition site, which will further enhance this important river corridor.