We raised $150,000 in two weeks for the expansion of public hunting and fishing in my home state, and that feels pretty darn good. The fact that these donations came in from all across the country and from people who may never set foot on this ground makes me feel even better.
This year's Land Access Initiative objective was Wildcat Bend North, a property that was initially identified by the members of Governor Gianforte’s “Lower Yellowstone River Corridor Advisory Committee” and Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks Region 7 access professionals. However, it was Hunter VanDonsel, Pheasants Forever’s Montana/Wyoming coordinator, who brought this to the attention of MeatEater. Thanks to the generous support of the MeatEater community and public land advocates across the country, we tripled our fundraising goal in just two short weeks.
The combined payments from the auction will be going to Pheasants Forever's Build A Wildlife Area® (BAWA) program for the fee-title acquisition of Wildcat-North.
“This Wildcat Bend North project represents a unique opportunity for Pheasants Forever, Montana FWP, and our valued partners like MeatEater to permanently protect critical riparian habitat and increase public access along one of Montana’s premier river systems,” VanDonsel said. “In fact, this parcel is part of a larger, strategic acquisition project that will collectively create a 2,300-acre complex of publicly accessible land with over four miles of river frontage that will help create clean water, healthy habitat, and abundant wildlife.”
As it stands currently, Wildcat-North is only $40,000 dollars shy of the funds needed to close on the property.
“We can’t thank MeatEater enough for supporting this project and elevating our Build a Wildlife Area Program,” VanDonsel continued. “Habitat protection, enhancement, and public access are at the core of this collaboration, and the MeatEater community stepped up in a tremendous way to make sure this opportunity becomes a reality.”
The Wildcat project as a whole will need to pass both the Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks Commission as well as the Montana State Land Board in order to become Montana’s next Wildlife Management Area. But we’re confident the project will be approved by both bodies, thanks in part to Governor Greg Gianforte’s support.
"Two years ago, we were proud to convene the Lower Yellowstone River Corridor Advisory Committee to identify new access, recreation, and habitat conservation opportunities along the Lower Yellowstone. Recommended by the committee, Wildcat Bend North provides crucial habitat for fish and wildlife and diverse recreational opportunities as a potential Wildlife Management Area," Governor Greg Gianforte said.
Everyone here at MeatEater really appreciates all who’ve donated and we look forward to auctioning off more oddities in the future to provide public land access for generations to come.
“We've been running the Auction House of Oddities on and off for years, and we've had some truly one-of-a-kind offerings that should rightly claim some high prices. But we recognize that folks are throwing down a heavier amount of cash than what is warranted by these offerings, and we recognize they're doing it because they believe in our mission of increasing and enhancing our access to hunting and fishing opportunities,” MeatEater Founder Steve Rinella said.
“We cherish the support of everyone who's pitched in, and we'll do our damndest to maintain their trust. And we'll keep this train rollin', too. Stay tuned for the next batch of oddities. It'll keep getting better.”