Ducks Unlimited recently completed the purchase of a 3,000-acre grassland and wetland complex in Phillips County, Montana. The purchase of the Anderson Tract includes 2,000 acres of state and federal grazing leases adjacent to the property.

"The acquisition of the Anderson property is a unique situation for Ducks Unlimited," said Bob Sanders, DU's manager of conservation programs in Montana. "With the additional leased lands, we are able to better manage livestock grazing onsite and provide optimal nesting conditions for waterfowl and other grassland nesting species. The grazing leases will also make the property more attractive to local ranchers when DU puts it on the market in three or four years."

As part of DU's revolving lands strategy, the property will be enrolled in a conservation easement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This easement will prohibit tillage and wetland drainage but will not restrict livestock grazing. "The ability to graze livestock is very important in eastern Montana, not only to maintain the quality of wildlife habitat, but also to perpetuate Montana's ranching lifestyle," Sanders said.

The utilization of a variety of state and federal conservation programs on DU properties is the key to this program's success. "Landowners see what DU is accomplishing on our properties and are using those same programs to conserve their own lands," Sanders said. "They are able to increase their economic return and improve infrastructure such as fencing and water sources for cattle. These are great programs for both ranchers and wildlife."