LETTER: MT BHA Supports the Montana Great Outdoors Conservation Easement – Phase 1

*** Learn more about this proposal and submit your own comments by the May 15th, 2024 deadline. ***


May 2, 2024


Leah Breidinger

Habitat Conservation Biologist

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks

490 N Meridian Road

Kalispell, MT 59901

[email protected]


Dear Ms. Breidinger:


On behalf of the Montana Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, a grassroots conservation group representing more than 2,500 dues-paying members across the state, we offer our full support of Phase I of the Montana Great Outdoors Conservation Easement. Our supporters are passionate in their pursuits of hunting and fishing and are driven towards working to conserve our natural resources and shared outdoor heritage. We are overjoyed about the potential 32,981-acre easement, and thank Green Diamond, Montana FWP, and the Trust for Public Land for their years-long efforts and generous contributions to help make this a reality. 


Like many places across the west, Montana has seen an influx of new residents over the last several years, many of whom are moving here to have better access to the outdoors. With this comes the threat of subdivision, habitat fragmentation, and the development of our wild lands. Ironically, this eventually means the loss of that proximity to our wild places that so many Montanans seek. Careful thought needs to be given to what the future will hold, and how large-scale landscape conservation is our best tool of preserving Montana’s outdoor heritage. The proposed Montana Great Outdoors Conservation Easement is a phenomenal project that does exactly that.


In addition to protecting open lands from development and subdivision, the 32,981-acre properties improve access to existing public lands or publicly accessible private lands and provide critical habitat and/or migration corridors for the species like elk, deer, black bears, Shiras moose, and turkeys that our members spend their precious weekends and vacation days pursuing, plus many other species that aren’t pursued, but seen and treasured by Montanans. Grizzly bears, for example, move through the area as they expand their range and seek connectivity between identified recovery zones in the Cabinet-Yaak and the Northern Continental Divide. Protecting the watershed will help provide clean, cool water for native Westslope Cutthroat and the threatened bull trout as well.


Given the diaspora of species this landscape supports, and its relative proximity to the population centers of Flathead, Sanders, and Lincoln counties, many of our members spend a great deal of time in these woods. In fact, the properties in question see an average of 6,000 hunter days annually, through a generous, but impermanent agreement with the current (and former) landowners. Montana families have built hunting and fishing traditions on this landscape, and through cementing this access by means of a perpetual conservation easement, Montana FWP and Green Diamond would ensure that these legacies can continue to grow and flourish.


It’s worth noting that the majority of this project funding ($20,000,000) would arrive from federal Land and Water Conservation Fund dollars (via the Forest Legacy Program), something BHA members tirelessly fought for permanently funding and authorizing - for this very reason.


In closing, Montana BHA applauds Green Diamond for their generosity and commitment to conservation and preserving public access and opportunity. Likewise, we appreciate Montana FWP (and sportsmen!) for helping foot the bill for this via $1,500,000 of Habitat Montana dollars, as well as the Trust For Public Lands for helping raise the remaining $4,000,000+ needed to make this project a reality. This is exactly the kind of thing Montana needs right now, especially near the growing population hub of the Flathead. We offer our full support to proceed.




Aaron Agosto

Montana BHA Flathead Regional Board Member (volunteer)

Bigfork, Montana


*** Learn more about this proposal and submit your own comments by the May 15th, 2024 deadline. ***


About Aaron Agosto

Carpenter. Hunter. Fly fisher. Montanan.

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