Big Win for Access on the Little Missouri
1,751 acres of new access, and more than 3,300 acres of improved access.
Name a North Dakota game species, and you’ll probably find it on or near the ranchland owned and worked by Glenn Myers and his family. Tucked next to the Little Missouri River on the border of its namesake national grassland, the ranch epitomizes the best of what these badlands offer up to wildlife.
“Bighorns and elk don’t live many places in this state, and when they show up, you know there is great habitat,” says Todd Buckley, North Dakota Game and Fish (NDGF) private lands biologist. “It also has whitetails, mule deer, pronghorn, mountain lions, sharptails, pheasants and turkeys.”
The Myers ranch now offers another cherished asset: public access, both to the ranch and to thousands of adjoining public acres. The family had been struggling with whitetails raiding haystacks, and asked NDGF for help. The state already had access to survey bighorns on the ranch, and Buckley suggested Myers consider enlisting it in the Private Land Open to Sportsmen program. PLOTS has opened three-quarters of a million acres of private land statewide to public access, but not many in the Little Missouri country. At 1.1 million acres, this national grassland is the state’s largest public land complex, spanning four counties. But many blocks are checkerboarded with private lands, making access a challenge.
Luckily, Buckley volunteers for the RMEF banquet in Williston, and knew about the Elk Foundation’s Project Advisory Committee (PAC) program, which grants money raised in the state to local elk conservation work. He applied for a PAC grant to cover 20 percent of a 10-year access agreement that NDGF had brokered with Myers. The PAC didn’t have to deliberate long.
“The Myers ranch is in such a gorgeous spot on the Little Missouri, and the elk up there come across that river constantly,” says RMEF Regional Director Shawn Kelley. Rancher Glenn Myers is happy as well.
“It’s been great,” he says. “We’ve had a lot of hunters come down here, including families with kids getting their first deer. Last season they killed 38 whitetails on my ranch. With as many deer as we used to have eating off our hay, that really helps eliminate the hungry mouths, so it’s really worked out for everybody.”
Buckley hopes neighboring ranches will see the benefits and give PLOTS a look, too.
“It’s been a win-win,” he says. “It fills in the checkerboard, and maybe most importantly, gives the public access to existing public lands beyond.”