LETTER: MT BHA Supports Mt. Haggin WMA Addition to Land Board

July 12, 2022

 

Governor Gianforte

Attorney General Knudsen

Commissioner Downing

Secretary of State Jacobsen

Superintendent Arntzen

 

CC: Secretary Christensen

 

[email protected]

 

RE: Willow Creek Acquisition

 

Members of the Montana Land Board,

The Montana Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers submits this comment in support of the proposed Willow Creek acquisition adjacent to the Mt. Haggin Wildlife Management Area. The Montana Chapter’s nearly 3,000 dues-paying members have a keen interest in the permanent protection of Montana lands (more than 800 acres here), as our organization is dedicated to protecting the value that wild lands, wildlife and wild fish bring to our great state. We strive to protect large parcels of backcountry fish and wildlife habitat, as well as the opportunity for fair-chase hunting and fishing experiences.

Acquisitions of new lands by Montana FWP provide an invaluable resource to Montanans and the rest of the nation. As FWP is aware, enlargement and development of additional public lands purposed and managed for wildlife, fisheries and recreation values (as described here) will only serve to assist with distribution of growing public use and enhancement of the natural resource user experience.

Of particular significance with this acquisition is the importance of this habitat to ungulate populations for elk and deer winter range and pronghorn fawning and summer range. Furthermore, these lands provide important riparian habitat around Willow Creek and Mill Creek, sustaining populations of moose, beaver, black bear, grouse, and numerous other birds, amphibians and reptiles. Finally, Willow Creek and Mill Creek both sustain wild populations of native Westslope Cutthroat trout and potentially threatened Bull trout. The diversity of species utilizing these lands underscore the value of this acquisition, separate and distinct from the human recreational experience.

We - along with a unanimous Fish & Wildlife Commission - support the acquisition of these lands as an addition to the Mt. Haggin Wildlife Management Area so that these properties will become part of Montana’s public land heritage (avoiding potential subdivision in to 27 individual 30-acre lots, as currently zoned) and will be managed for the recreational, wildlife and fish habitat benefits they can provide. This opportunity to enlarge public land ownership will not only provide greater public access to recreational lands, but will also permanently protect the biologically rich habitat that contributes to the diverse wildlife in this area.

For these reasons, Montana BHA offers this comment in support of this acquisition.

 

Sincerely,

 

Scott DeSena

Volunteer Southwest Montana Chapter Leader

Montana Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers

About Scott Desena

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