Ecosystem: Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem
Location: MT – near Helena
Project Type: Conservation easement
Summary: In September 2008, Vital Ground provided a grant to the Helena, Montana-based Prickly Pear Land Trust to help secure a conservation easement on a ranch that sits along a vital wildlife corridor near the Continental Divide west of Helena. Grizzlies and lynx have been documented in the area and more than 100 elk range across the ranch.
Homesteaded in 1865, the 1,500-acre ranch has been owned and operated for five generations of the Schatz family. The property adjoins Forest Service and Montana state lands and remains undeveloped except for an historic cabin that once served as a stage stop. A spectacular landscape, rolling grass meadows give way to mountain slopes dominated by lodgepole pine, Douglas fir, spruce, subalpine fir, and quaking aspen. Fourteen natural springs bubble up on the property, and Dog Creek and Uncle George Creek flow across the ranch as they run to the Little Blackfoot River.