Whitefish watershed project moves forward

Montana endorses watershed project

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is recommending that the Fish and Wildlife Commission approve the purchase of a conservation easement on the Lazy Creek portion of the Whitefish Lake Watershed Project area as proposed in the Preferred Alternative of the environmental assessment.

FWP released a draft EA for public comment from June 13 to July 12, 2017, and held a public hearing in Whitefish on June 21. FWP received 34 public comments, with all in favor of conserving this property. Four specified a preference for the Preferred Alternative and two supported the Secondary Alternative, with one of those wanting FWP or the US Forest Service to own the entire property.All comments are addressed in the decision notice.
The Whitefish Lake Watershed Project is a proposal by FWP and The Trust for Public Land (TPL) to conserve twenty-one sections (approximately 13,398 acres) of Weyerhaeuser property located approximately nine miles northwest of Whitefish, Montana. Under this proposal, TPL would acquire the entire project area from Weyerhaeuser by the end of September 2017. FWP would purchase the Lazy Creek Conservation Easement (CE) on sixteen sections (~10,218 acres). The Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) would purchase the underlying fee ownership from TPL once the conservation easement is in place.
The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) would provide funding for purchase of the other five sections (~3,180 acres) in the Swift Creek drainage. In exchange for their funding, BPA would retain a perpetual conservation easement on the five sections. Under the Preferred Alternative, ownership of the Swift Creek sections would be transferred to DNRC. Both FWP’s acquisition of the Lazy Creek CE and DNRC’s ownership of the property require the approval of the State Land Board.
“FWP appreciates the commitment from Weyerhaeuser, TPL, BPA, and DNRC, who have all helped to provide this opportunity to continue sustainable forest management, conserve fish and wildlife habitat, and provide for continued public enjoyment on these treasured lands,” said Jim Williams, Regional Supervisor for FWP in Kalispell.
Copies of the decision notice are available at the FWP office, 490 N. Meridian Rd., Kalispell; Montana State Library, 1515 E 6th Ave., Helena; FWP State Headquarters, 1420 E 6th Ave., Helena; the FWP website at http://fwp.mt.gov/news/publicNotices/decisionNotices/; and available for viewing at local libraries.
Contact persons: Alan Wood (406-751-4595; awood@mt.gov) or Kris Tempel (406-751-4573; ktempel@mt.gov).

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published