January 10, 2020
The Montana Chapter of BHA
PO Box 9257
Missoula, MT 59808
Attn: Brandi Skone
P.O. Box 1630
Miles City, MT 59301
Re: W-Bar CE Comment
To the Dedicated Staff of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks:
On behalf of the Montana Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (MT BHA), I’d like to voice full-throated support for the proposed 6,751-acre W-Bar Conservation Easement. The area is a veritable wildlife heaven replete with the full complement of eastern Montana game species, including whitetail and mule deer, turkey, pheasant and sharp-tailed grouse. And as if that isn’t enough to warrant protection and guarantee perpetual public access, the area supports a variety of native songbirds and houses the threatened greater sage grouse.
The W-Bar goes beyond offering excellent hunting and wildlife viewing opportunities. It features numerous green ash draws with fruit-bearing understory shrubs like chokecherry, wild plum and serviceberry. Due to cattle grazing and other factors, green ash draws arein decline, which is particularly concerning because these habitatsprovide critical food and cover for wildlife. In addition to protecting green ash draws, the W-Bar Easement will provide welcome opportunities for the public to enjoy these emblematic habitats, most of which are privately owned.
For Montana BHA, the enthusiasm meter is maxed even before considering Beaver Creek; this Little Missouri River tributary coursing the property for ten miles breaks our gusto meter. Like green ash draws, riparian habitats are mostly private in Montana, and Beaver Creek is no exception: nearlyall the river corridor is private, much like nearly all uplands surrounding the W-Bar for many miles. This easement will provide anglers with much-needed public access to Beaver Creek’s walleye, pike and catfish fisheries.
The W-Bar Easement represents everything at the core of Montana BHA’s mission. Our 3,250 dues-paying members applaud your efforts to protect these lands for all to enjoy, and we fully support the purchase of this conservation easement using Habitat Montana dollars.
Miles City, MT
Region 7 Leader - Montana Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers