American Prairie Purchase Means More Public Access to Montana Land

American Prairie, a Montana-based non-profit land steward, recently acquired the 73 Ranch located along Musselshell River in Garfield and Petroleum counties. Part of American Prairie’s mission is to open public lands previously surrounded by private land, as 73 Ranch was.

According to the Daily Montanan, the purchase means the public gets access to more than 9,300 acres that wasn’t previously accessible. American Prairie now operates more than 450,000 acres of public land across Montana. 

The non-profit’s vice president Pete Geddes said it’s the largest opening of public lands for decades. “When we first started, people around us were skeptical,” he said. “But now, we have a track record of opening land that was once off limits.”

Different public lands access groups report that there are still some 1.2 million acres across the West that are publicly owned but inaccessible (for reference, BLM manages 245 million acres of public land). 

Most of the American Prairie property surrounds the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge. The 73 Ranch property in particular is known for its population of elk, mule deer, pronghorn, turkeys, pheasants and other waterfowl. 

Opponents of the group include Gov. Greg Gianforte and Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen, who recently objected to BLM’s decision to continue leases that were not connected to cattle grazing. Visit for more information.