July 17, 2019
Mr. Rick Northrup
Wildlife Habitat Bureau Chief, FLP Program Mgr
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks
1420 E 6th Avenue
P.O. Box 200701
Helena, MT 59620
RE: Forest Legacy, Kootenai Forestlands Conservation Project, Phase II
Dear Mr. Northrup,
The Montana Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers represents more than 3,000 sportsmen and women in Montana who are concerned with maintaining fish and wildlife habitat and traditional hunting and fishing opportunities. Our Montana Chapter includes many members who hunt and fish in the Kootenai National Forest and the surrounding timber lands.
Montana BHA strongly supports the conservation easement to permanently protect public access and critical wildlife habitat on these 27,929 acres in northwest Montana. As the human population of the Flathead Valley and surrounding areas continue to grow, ensuring healthy habitats for wildlife becomes increasingly important. Habitat connectivity is vital to many species of big game animals as well as threatened and endangered species that require access to seasonal migration routes and winter ranges. Acquiring a conservation easement on this property would protect critical habitat from fragmentation and future development, while helping to ensure that seasonal uses by wildlife and our members would continue.
Additionally, as hunter numbers continue to decline in Montana and across the country, Montana BHA also recognizes the importance of providing public access to our wild places. One of the biggest challenges in recruiting new hunters – and retaining existing ones – is the lack of, or loss of, access to huntable lands. A conservation easement held in perpetuity would ensure that these lands allow continued public hunting access into the future.
Montana BHA applauds the collaborative efforts of Stimson Land and Lumber, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the Trust for Public Land to protect the future of our wildlife, our wild lands and our access to the outdoors in Montana.
Molly Elliott, Region 1 Board Member – Columbia Falls, MT
Aaron Agosto, Member – Kalispell, MT
The Montana Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers