Last week, federal officials announced a proposal maintaining public access on 100,000 acres of private timber lands in northwest Montana belonging to Southern Pine Plantations. On Wednesday, a joint statement by state officials and a nonprofit said the two are working together on an another, even-larger easement.
The San Francisco-based Trust for Public Land and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks announced a separate 130,000-acre easement proposal on Southern Pine land.
It brings the total proposed public land easements in the area between Kalispell and Libby to 230,000 acres.
The easements would create permanent public access to the private land, access which was previously allowed by former owner Weyerhaueser through an annual state land management program. Both the state and the federal easement proposals also maintain commercial logging projects on the land.
FWP spokesperson Dillon Tabish said the state is working to get federal conservation dollars to put toward its 130,000-acre proposal. He added there may be a push for some state funding as well. Trust for Public Land is also beginning a private fundraising effort.
In a joint press release, Southern Pine President Pat Patton said his company will work with FWP and Trust for Public Land on the project.