August 17, 2022
Wildlife Habitat Bureau Chief
FLP Program Mgr.
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
1420 East 6th Avenue
PO Box 200701
Helena, MT 59620
Re: Upper Thompson Conservation Easement Project
Dear Mr. Northrup:
On behalf of our roughly 3,000 dues-paying members in the Big Sky State, the Montana Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is thrilled to see Green Diamond Resources partner with The Trust for Public Lands and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to permanently protect these proposed 48,000 acres of active timber lands by entering them into a perpetual conservation easement. As a grassroots conservation organization, our members care deeply about quality wildlife habitat, public access and fair-chase hunting and fishing opportunities, and this project would help accomplish all three.
The Thompson River corridor is historically an important recreation resource for residents of Flathead and Sanders counties. While this region isn’t ranked among the best in the state for elk hunting, these areas provide some of the best opportunities for area residents to chase wapiti. Previously owned by Plum Creek Timber Company, and then Weyerhaeuser, these lands were managed as a contiguous parcel with public recreational access permitted through the goodwill of the landowners. The recent sale and subdivision of these lands to Southern Pine Plantations and then to Green Diamond Resources has left some questions as to what the future of public access will hold. Entering this acreage into a perpetual conservation easement shows that Green Diamond is committed to Montana’s gold standard of forestry legacy by allowing public access while being good stewards of the lands through active management and conservation.
Montana has experienced unprecedented growth over these last several years, Flathead County especially. With increased growth and development often comes the loss of wildlife habitat. By excluding these lands from future development, Montana FWP and Green Diamond are protecting critical habitat for deer, moose, elk and bighorn sheep, among a host of other native wildlife that depend on large swaths of contiguous forests.
Montana BHA is deeply appreciative for the Forest Legacy Program’s consideration of this project. This easement would fully cement these lands as part of Montana’s hunting and fishing legacy and provide endless opportunities for the enjoyment of our great outdoors for generations to come.
Montana BHA offers our full support of – and for any future needs with – this project.
Flathead Valley Regional Leader
The Montana Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers