Here’s how the article opens: Five people sat around a tray of cinnamon rolls in a small real estate office in the ranching and big game hunting town of Augusta, Montana. Mike Mueller, RMEF’s senior lands program manager for Montana, wrote $2,460,000 on a napkin, folded it over so nobody else could see and slid it across to lifelong rancher Dan Barrett.
When he opened it, Barrett cracked a small smile and said, “That’s what I thought you’d offer. Where’s all this money going to come from?”
Mueller said, “Well hell, Dan, I don’t know. But trust us. We’ll get it.”
“You know, against my better judgment, I do trust you,” Barrett replied. “But let me think on it.” They shook hands all around and parted ways.
This was the culmination of years of effort and there was a lot riding on the deal. The price on the napkin represented 442 acres of land so special, no amount of money could truly quantify the value to the public—especially those who love to hunt elk.