Some of the most prolific, intact grasslands in Montana can be found along Highway 200 between Jordan and Circle. This prairie landscape is home to a rich tradition of ranching, as well as abundant wildlife, including the greater sage grouse, pronghorn, Baird’s sparrow, Sprague’s pipit, McCown’s longspur, and lark bunting to name a few.
In 2019, the Hinnaland family approached The Montana Land Reliance (MLR) with questions about how a conservation easement might fit in with their long-term goals and stewardship of their property. The conservation easement was negotiated over several years and was finalized in July 2021. The easement permanently protects 13,000 acres of exceptional sagebrush and grassland habitat in McCone County and prohibits the conversion of grassland to cropland. The easement places limits on future subdivision and development while allowing for continued use of the property for agriculture and ranching.
The Soda Creek Ranch conservation easement marks the culmination of a multi-year collaborative effort that included the Hinnaland family, MLR, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The easement, which is held and will be monitored by MLR, ensures that this critical area of habitat in eastern Montana will remain available for ranching and wildlife habitat in perpetuity. Funding for the easement was provided through NFWF and the NRCS Agricultural Land Easement (ALE) program.