by Erin Madison, Great Falls Tribune
“Eight years in the making, the Tenderfoot Creek drainage and some 8,200 acres surrounding it is now open and accessible to the public.
That milestone was celebrated Friday with a ceremony in the Capitol rotunda, complete with elk buglings sounding out through the capitol.
The Tenderfoot Creek drainage in the Little Belt Mountains flows into the renowned Smith River. It’s a vital spawning tributary and is surrounded by excellent elk habitat.
The area could be seen as a developer’s dream. However, that wasn’t the future the Bair family wanted for it.
Charles Bair, who struck it rich in an Alaskan gold rush, bought 13 square miles of checkerboarded land within the Lewis and Clark National Forest along Tenderfoot Creek.
After Bair’s two daughters died, the last in 1993, the Bair Ranch Foundation was created to continue the family’s philanthropic legacy.”