KALISPELL — The first steps on a major project aimed at protecting more than 113,000 acres of timberland in northwest Montana is underway.
“It supports forestry work, it supports wildlife habitat, it supports migratory corridors and also it supports public recreation,” Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) spokesman Dillon Tabish told MTN News.
Public comment is open through March 4 on a potential conservation easement between FWP and landowners SPP Montana and Green Diamond resource Company.
“Which would maintain their private property ownership and their ability to continue to do forestry work on that land, but it would also ensure that land remains open for public access, and it remains intact as wildlife habitat and open space so, it couldn’t be developed," added Tabish.
The proposed land is located between Kalispell and Libby and borders Thompson Chain of Lakes State Park and two existing easements already in place. Tabish said funding for the easement would come through federal grants and the Habitat Montana program.
“It really takes a willing landowner; this is something the landowner has to be interested in doing and right now these landowners are interested in working with us on these solutions and so that’s what got us interested to sit down with them,” added Tabish.
Tabish said the 113,000 acres of timberland is a key wildlife habitat and public recreation access spot. He added the easement would make sure the land stays intact for future generations.
“So, it really wouldn’t change anything, it would just permanently secure what has been happening on those lands for you know, a century,” said Tabish.
Tabish said conservation easements are a special way to protect Northwest Montana’s beauty from future development.
“It’s a legacy project that everyone can really be proud of to see entire landscapes protected for public access and wildlife and forestry work, that’s a pretty exciting opportunity," added Tabish.
Public comments can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org or Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, Chris Hammond, Re: Proposed Conservation Easement, 490 N. Meridian Road, Kalispell, MT, 59901.