April 30, 2018
PO Box 201425
Helena, MT 59620
Subject: DCC and CFR Ranches
To Whom it May Concern:
The Montana Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is a statewide organization with 1,800 resident hunters and anglers who value quality wildlife and fisheries habitats, as well as public access to these resources. Many of our members fish or hunt in the upper Clark Fork Valley. Our organization advocates for both habitat and access values and supports efforts to protect or enhance both habitat and access. We have previously provided our input to other NRDP projects.
Our chapter has evaluated the proposal for conservation easements on the DCC and CFR ranches. We appreciate the enormous value of permanently protecting riparian values of 5.5 miles of the Clark Fork, especially given other restoration efforts will undoubtedly enhance both the fisheries habitat and riparian values. Fishing use of the area will undoubtedly increase with expected improved water quality. We also appreciate that the proposed project will permanently protect 3,396 acres of mixed habitats. And we appreciate the NRDP prioritization process has identified these properties as Priority 1 areas.
We appreciate that this project will develop a “public access plan” associated with these easements. Such an access plan makes this project especially important to our members. The Montana Chapter of BHA has particular interest in assurance of long term reasonable fishing access to fishable waters on these properties. We also support hunting access to uplands, especially as it provides public access to the intermingled DNRC lands on the east side of the project. Waterfowl hunting would be enhanced with a walk-in riparian access during waterfowl season. We understand that unconditional public access would substantially diminish the recoverable value as the property is resold, but we hope hunting and fishing opportunities for the public are fully considered.
Montana BHA would like to express our strong support for this project as proposed.
Board Conservation Director for the Montana Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers