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2024 Montana Primary elections

27,000 Acre Conservation Easement Proposed By Montana Officials

Montana wildlife officials want to purchase a conservation easement on over 27,000 acres of timberlands in northwest Montana.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has released a plan to buy the easement southwest of Libby on timberlands owned by Stimson Lumber Company. Under the outline, Stimson would retain ownership and continue to log the land, but the easement would prevent development and maintain permanent public access.

FWP says the land is an important winter range for elk, deer and moose, but also serves as critical habitat for threatened grizzly bears and bull trout.

According to the draft environmental assessment, the appraised value of the property is $16.3 million, but Stimson may be willing to sell the easement for less. Currently, FWP has secured about $6.4 million in federal and state funding and hopes to secure more federal dollars to close on the deal.

FWP will host a public hearing on the proposal in Libby on July 14 at 6 p.m. Written comments are due by July 28.

Aaron graduated from the University of Minnesota School of Journalism in 2015 after interning at Minnesota Public Radio. He landed his first reporting gig in Wrangell, Alaska where he enjoyed the remote Alaskan lifestyle and eventually moved back to the road system as the KBBI News Director in Homer, Alaska. He joined the MTPR team in 2019. Aaron now reports on all things in northwest Montana and statewide health care.
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