Rocky Mountain Goat Alliance Survey - Henry's Lake Mountains
As a member of 2% For Conservation, Alpen Fuel volunteers 20+ hours each year to conservation causes like the Rocky Mountain Goat Alliance. We also put a percentage of our sales each year towards wildlife and public land conservation efforts . Last year we did trail maintenance with the Absoroka Beartooth Wilderness Foundation. Each trip is unique, and a fun way to give back, get outside, and meet like-minded individuals. After all, if we didn't have public lands and wildlife, Alpen Fuel wouldn't be possible!
Last weekend Shaun, the owner of Alpen Fuel, ventured into the backcountry to help survey mountain goats in SW Montana. The project was put on by the Rocky Mountain Goat Alliance and Montana FWP. The survey area was the mountain range between Hebgen Reservoir and Henry's Lake Idaho, often referred to as the Henry's Lake Mountains. The Continental Divide Trail (CDT) straddles the mountain range, and incorporates some of the best goat habitat in the district. The range makes up Montana Hunting District 361, which gives out 2 mountain goat tags per year, while the Idaho side of the divide doesn't give out any permits. All of the 25+ volunteers split into small groups and surveyed the entire range, which was broken down into seven small parcels. The intent of the survey was to monitor the size and composition of the mountain goat herd in order to enable Montana FWP to better manage the area.
Henry's Lake Mountains
Entire survey area in red, our group's survey area in yellow
After meeting up Friday evening at the Stone Glacier headquarters, we were divided into teams. Shaun was teamed up with Kylie, who is the College Coordinator for Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (BHA) out of Missoula, MT. Each team then drove to their survey areas Friday night. Shaun and Kiley elected to camp at the trailhead on the Idaho/Montana border and head into the survey area the following morning. Each team was responsible for counting as many goats as possible (identifying sex if possible) between 4-9pm on Saturday. On Saturday, we hiked in four miles and set up camp on the CDT. After lunch, we hiked another 2-3 miles into the back of a beautiful alpine basin. As it was still before 4pm, we decided to take a nap. Later that evening, we spotted 9 goats up on Bald Peak. They were 1.1 miles away so we didn't get a close look. Shaun ventured further up the trail to take a look off the back side, and spotted another 7 mountain goats scattered along a rock face. All told we surveyed 16 mountain goats, of which 2 were kids, and one was a yearling. We were fortunate, as some of the groups were not able to locate goats within their survey area. Here are a few images from the trip.