Montana Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers
PO Box 9257
Missoula, MT 59807
Kootenai Forestlands Phase II Conservation Easement
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
Attn: Kris Tempel
490 N. Meridian Rd
Kalispell, MT 59901
Email: [email protected]
RE: Kootenai Forestlands Phase II Conservation Easement Proposal
The Montana Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (MT BHA) submits this comment in strong support of the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ (FWP) proposal to purchase a conservation easement on 27,289 acres of Stimson Lumber Company land near Libby, Montana. MT BHA represents approximately 3,000 dues-paying Montana members who care deeply about public fish and wildlife habitat, public access and fair chase hunting and fishing practices. We strive to protect large parcels of backcountry fish and wildlife habitat, as well as the opportunity for fair chase hunting and fishing experiences.
As stated in the Draft Environmental Assessment as provided by FWP, the proposed conservation easement would protect important key winter-range habitat and increase landscape connectivity for the movement of elk, mule deer, white-tailed deer and moose. In addition, the proposed easement would allow Stimson Lumber Company to retain ownership of the timberland while also securing public access in perpetuity. Preserving these public recreational opportunities is of high importance to our community, as the Draft EA states that the land currently provides 26,500 days per year of public hunting and angling use. It is for this reason that BHA has offered written comments in support of numerous Forest Legacy Program-funded conservation easements, including our 2019 written support for this proposal and the FY21 Forest Legacy Program application to support the purchase.
Throughout our great state and much of the rural West, recent global events have triggered a surge in property values. That fact alone makes it even more imperative that our organization lend our support to the approach of collaborative funding mechanisms for this project including the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Montana Fish and Wildlife Conservation Trust and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) Forest Legacy Program, in addition to the landowner considering selling at below-market value.
For all of these reasons, Montana BHA offers this comment in support of the FWP Kootenai Forestlands Phase II Conservation Easement as currently proposed in the Draft EA published in June 2021.
Molly VandeVoort, Flathead Board Member
The Montana Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers