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For Sale: Running Colter Ranch

With a massive restoration of Running Colter Ranch completed, the property is now up for sale!  With two spring-fed waterfowl ponds and several smaller creeks and sloughs, the ranch represents one of the finest sporting properties available in the Bozeman area.  Additionally, its abundance of water for irrigation as a result of Trout Headwater’s work makes it well-suited for productive uses.  The ranch is listed by Live Water Properties and is offered as one 696 +/- acre ranch or as two separate parcels.  Visit the Live Water Properties listing to learn more about Running Colter Ranch as well as to find contact information for the listing brokers. Read on to discover the value in the restoration of stream and wetlands on Running Colter Ranch.

For most of our nation’s history, we have perceived wetlands as a hurdle on the path to development.  As a result, government entities and private organizations alike sought to drain as many as possible.  For centuries, the benefits of such policies were easily recognized: increased availability of nutrient-rich agricultural land as well as greater access to lands prime for residential, commercial, and infrastructure development.  In fact, up until the 1970s, the U.S. Department of Agriculture considered wetlands drainage a conservation practice under the Agriculture Conservation Program.

It wasn’t until the mid-1980s that wetlands began to be recognized as important ecosystems both for promoting greater biodiversity and for providing ecosystem services such as flood mitigation and water filtration.  And today, heroic efforts are being undertaken all across the country to protect and restore some of the largest and most significant wetlands.  These include areas like the tidal wetlands of the San Francisco Bay Area, the Mississippi River Delta, and the Great Dismal Swamp.

One particularly successful effort involved the restoration of Running Colter Ranch outside of Belgrade, Montana.  Over the past 80 years, the many bodies of water on the ranch were diverted into underground pipes and ditches that were quite deep.  Many of the wetlands areas had been filled or dredged.  Though these efforts helped to increase the immediate availability of water due to rainfall situations, the long-term consequences were disastrous.  Because the water was encouraged to run straight into the pipes, none of it was able to permeate into the ground and recharge underground aquifers.  Over the years, the groundwater table dropped measurably, leaving the land parched and devoid of all but the hardiest of plant species.

In 2008, a conservation fund purchased Running Colter Ranch with the goal of restoring the streams and wetlands on the property.  Field Sport Concepts affiliate Trout Headwaters, Inc. was hired to lead this effort.  THI owner, Mike Sprague, admits that it was hard for him to imagine what the ranch could be when he was first introduced to it.  But with its team of water restoration professionals, Trout Headwaters re-engineered the ranch’s streams, bringing the water back to the surface in places.  They re-elevated the groundwater table, reintroduced wetlands species, and created habitat that now supports a number of aquatic species as well as migratory birds.

To learn more about Live Water’s Running Colter Ranch, a premier Montana ranch for sale, visit (link to property).

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