BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Montana officials propose to pay $3.4 million to ensure public access to a large area on the Yellowstone River.

The proposed conservation easement purchase by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks would cover 15 square miles (40 square kilometers) in Treasure County in southeastern Montana.

State officials say that besides ensuring access, the easement would conserve habitat for big game, waterfowl, upland game birds and nongame wildlife.

The DeCock Ranch Co. owns the land linking a wildlife management area, state lands and a U.S. Bureau of Land Management recreational area.

The Billings Gazette reports federal funds would cover 75% of the purchase cost.

Under the proposal, the ranch might require members of the public to request permission to access the property. Cattle grazing could continue.

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Information from: The Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com