Near where the borders of Fergus, Musselshell and Golden Valley counties meet south of the Little Snowy Mountains, two billionaire Texas brothers have quietly collected more than 177,000 acres of ranch land in the last two years.
But that’s only a portion of the property that Farris, 60, and Dan Wilks, 56, have accumulated in Montana. In all, they own more than 276,000 acres in seven counties in the eastern half of the state. That’s 431 square miles–but still only 1/3 the size of Ben Cartwright’s 600,000-acre “Ponderosa” ranch of TV’s Bonanza series, but respectable nonetheless.
Rumor floating around Fergus County is that the Wilks brothers are looking to get rid of isolated Bureau of Land Management inholdings through land exchanges.
Stan Benes, field manager for the BLM’s Lewistown Field Office, said the agency is open to any proposals, but is quick to add that any propositions would have to go through public scrutiny.
“We have to make absolutely certain it’s in the public’s best interest,” Benes said.
The BLM owns about 2,500 acres in the Durfee Hills that are landlocked within the N Bar with no road access.
“If we could trade that for another place we could gain some access,” Benes said. “That would be worth consideration.”
Benes said some pilots fly to the inholding to hunt. When one pilot wrecked his plane, he had to hire a helicopter to remove the damaged aircraft because there was no road access.