The group Save Our Gallatin Front (SOGF) on Wednesday placed the winning bid and obtained a 25-year conservation license at a timber auction for Limestone West, 443 acres of state Trust Land southeast of Bozeman.
Officials with the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC), which proposed the sale, said in a media release that the conservation license effectively suspends the proposed logging activity on the planned timber sale harvest units for the next 25 years.
“We congratulate Save Our Gallatin Front for their successful bid,” said Dan Rogers, chief of DNRC’s Forest Management Bureau. “While we prefer active forest management on Trust Lands, the law provides a process for obtaining a Conservation License in lieu of harvest and Save Our Gallatin Front successfully followed that process.”
On Tuesday, SOGF submitted the high bid of $18.15 per ton on the timber project for a total payment of $400,026. RY Timber of Townsend, Mont., submitted a bid of $17.06 per ton — the minimum bid allowed – for a total payment of $376,000.
DNRC sent a letter to SOGF on Wednesday, confirming its bid was accepted. The award letter also clarifies payment schedules, bonding and insurance requirements. Rogers said SOGF will now have 30 days to submit the first of three payments of $133,342.
In the public involvement process for the project, DNRC issued three separate public scoping notices as the timber project was developed, providing 110 days for the community to comment on the plan, including two public meetings and a public hearing.
According to the DNRC, since Fiscal Year 2014, timber sales and forest improvement fees on state Trust Lands in Montana have produced more than $53 million in revenue for public schools and other endowed institutions.