LEWISTOWN - A plan that's over two years in the making is in its final step. Shodair Children's Hospital was given an almost 6,000-acre plot of land in the Snowy Mountains several years ago. They were given the land after the previous owner passed away and Shodair CEO Craig Aasved knew immediately they were going to repurpose it.
“It's a win-win because the proceeds of this go into our new hospital building and then this just gives a whole lot more access to Montanans, which has been our goal all along. We weren't going to keep the land because that's not the business we're in, but we wanted to be able to sell it where it was going to be public property.”
The Montana Fish & Wildlife Commission unanimously approved its sale. Aasved said it was for a total of $8.22 million. All that's left is for the Montana Land Board to approve the sale.
“The Montana Wildlife Commission approved the deal unanimously. Now it goes to the land board where the five members will deliberate,” MT Wildlife Federation board member Glenn Elison said. “And we're hopeful that they'll follow the lead of the commission and support the public has shown consistently for this project. And I urge the public to stay involved and monitor the process.”
The idea is to open access to thousands of other acres in additional land surrounding the plot. The land board will vote on the sale within a month, and if they approve it, the sale will be finalized and will allow access to large portions of the mountain range that weren't previously accessible. Backcountry Hunters & Anglers board member Doug Krings says access has been tricky in the past and this is a one-in-a-million opportunity.
“The access is critically important specifically in this area because access to the elk and other wildlife is really difficult. This is very rare. There's not going to be very many opportunities like this in the future.”