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FWP proposes conservation easement to protect over 22,000 acres near Libby

Posted at 3:10 PM, May 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-30 18:09:43-04
Public comment is being sought on a proposal to purchase a conservation easement that would protect approximately 22,295 acres in the Libby area. (photo credit: FWP)

KALISPELL – Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is seeking public comment on a proposal to purchase a conservation easement that would protect approximately 22,295 acres in the Libby area.

The property is owned by the Stimson Lumber Company and the conservation project is a collaborative effort involving Stimson, The Trust for Public Land, and FWP.

The proposed conservation easement, which would be held by FWP, would allow Stimson to retain these timberlands and continue to manage them using sustainable forest practices while protecting the valuable fish and wildlife habitat found on the property.

FWP has scheduled a public hearing for June 12 at 6 p.m. in the Libby City Hall Ponderosa Room. The meeting will allow interested organizations and individuals an opportunity to ask questions about the proposed project and submit public comment.

The property, which shares 133 miles of border with the Kootenai National Forest, currently provides over 1,100 days of public hunting access as well as high quality winter range for moose, elk, white-tailed deer, and mule deer.

FWP is seeking comment on a draft environmental assessment that describes the scope of the project.

The primary objectives of this project are to:

  • Conserve important fish and wildlife habitat
  • Continue sustainable commercial forest management
  • Maintain public recreation access into the future

Following completion of the draft EA and review of the public comments received, the FWP Region One Supervisor will issue a decision notice that makes a recommendation to the Fish and Wildlife Commission on a course of action. The Commission will make the final decision on which course of action to take.

A copy of the draft environmental assessment is available at the FWP Region 1 office in Kalispell, the Montana State Library in Helena, the FWP State Headquarters in Helena and local libraries. The EA can also be viewed online here.

FWP asks that comments on this draft environmental assessment be submitted to ktempel@mt.gov or to Kris Tempel, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, 490 North Meridian Road, Kalispell, MT 59901.