Dennis and Becky Anderson love their Montana land. They love actively taking care of it, too. The Andersons, members of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation since 1988, recently received the Missoula County Land Stewardship Award.
“When we first talked about creating this award, we asked how do we do something for a landowner who is taking care of the land,” Patrick O’Herren, Missoula County Open Lands Advisory Council member, told the Missoula Current. “What we learned here is it’s not just taking care of it. It’s bringing it back, it’s making it better, it’s passing it on. And you guys have done that.”
Not only did the Andersons place their 207-acre ranch on a RMEF conservation easement more than a decade ago, thus permanently protecting its wildlife values, but they actively monitor and enhance their land.
“The Andersons are excellent stewards of the land, as evidenced by regular noxious weed treatments, riparian area plantings and forest management activities,” Stephanie Strickland, RMEF conservation easement program manager, wrote in her nomination materials. “The landowners’ efforts to carefully steward their ranch continues to result in outstanding wildlife habitat. Elk use has been reported at approximately 50-80 elk from calving season through mid-September, and increased calving has been noted over the past few years.”
“And now the other night, there were 100 head in my hay field. Ate up all my profits,” Dennis told the Missoula Current. “I can get 43 round bales out of that field. Last time I did it, I got three. But I don’t care. They were here first. We love seeing them.”
In addition to the land itself, the Anderson also enhance Miller Creek which flows through the property. As part of ongoing wetland restoration work, they hosted volunteers including a high school science class to plant 400 native riparian plants on the floodplain. They also improved fish habitat by shoring up the streambank and adding woody debris structures in the water.
Becky and Dennis Anderson are members of RMEF’s Habitat Council thanks to their philanthropic efforts.
(Photo source: Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation)