Missoula Field Office, Bureau of Land Management
(406) 329-3914 | BLM_MT_Missoula_fo@blm.gov
June 13, 2019
SUBJECT: BLM's proposed purchase of up to 13,000 acres of Montana Forests lands extending north of the BLM’s current ownership in the Belmont drainage
To whom it may concern at the BLM Missoula Field Office:
Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (BHA) is a national organization of 33,000 members seeking to ensure North America's outdoor heritage of hunting and fishing in a natural setting, through education and work on behalf of wild public lands and waters. The Montana Chapter of BHA represents 3,900 members who are public land advocates in the state of Montana. We rely on federally managed public lands to quietly hunt, hike, fish, boat, forage and explore. In return for the opportunities that these lands provide us, we strive to protect and conserve the wildlife and wildlands within existing and potential public lands.
The Blackfoot watershed is a treasure of Montana. It’s high-quality landscape health and wildlife populations are a testament to the vast acres of state and federally managed public lands as well as proactive, conservation-minded private landowners and stewards. Due to 19th century European expansion in the western United States, many of the landscapes today still face the management challenges of a checkerboarded ownership. The Blackfoot is no exception to this. Thanks to the efforts of The Nature Conservancy, hundreds of thousands of acres were acquired from Plum Creek Timber Co. and were protected from potential over exploitation, subdivision and overdevelopment through the Legacy Project. These lands have been accessible to public recreation for decades by the generosity of past owners but the access was never permanently secure without public ownership.
The Montana Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers fully supports the proposed transfer of 13,000 of the now consolidated acres of TNC lands in the Blackfoot watershed’s Belmont drainage to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) which will permanently secure public ownership and access. Furthermore, we support the use of Land and Water Conservation Fund to be used in this transaction as was the intent of this funding source.
We look forward to continued recreation on these lands, as well as the opportunity to work with the BLM Missoula Field Office, on future management of this area.
Hannah Nikonow, Region 2 Chapter Leader
The Montana Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers