Monday, August 22, 2016

Ranchers, wildlife groups create biggest public access in North Dakota

Nate Harling and crew are pounding in more than 100 signs around the biggest public hunting access ever created in North Dakota. Those yellow PLOTS signs, which stand for Private Lands Open to Sportsmen, are a sight for sore eyes to hunters looking for a place to go where there is no fee, no permission required. The Richard Angus Ranch on the far western edge of North Dakota consists of more than 20,000 contiguous acres that contain some of the most wildlife-diverse land around. Ranch owners Byron and Kathy Richard purchased what had been the Beaver Creek Ranch property north of Beach last year, with the idea of creating a cattle and wildlife legacy ranch for future generations. With miles of free-flowing Beaver Creek winding through, high bluffs, buttes and open range supporting everything from chirr-upping prairie dogs to bugling elk, it didn’t take Byron Richard long to realize he had quite an opportunity in hand. “This is a lot more than we need for a couple of family members,” he said.The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Pheasants Forever, the Wild Turkey Federation and the Mule Deer Foundation joined the agency to support the cost of access and infrastructure, including wildlife-friendly fence, water tanks, signs and vehicle access points. Volunteers helped tear out an old cross-fence system, build new fence and water systems, and clean up the property, including an old abandoned oil well location. The idea with the water projects is to control cattle grazing away from the creek to help restore the riparian areas – the trees, the grass, the fresh water that provide critical habitat for wildlife. In exchange for the PLOTS payment and other wildlife contributions totaling $664,000, Richard signed a 10-year deal, meaning that sportsmen and women can become familiar with the land and the wildlife season after season for a long time to come. “To get their return, they needed a long-term commitment,” Richard said. “This is a resource to share with the people.”...more

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