The Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission approved two major Flathead area conservation projects—Bad Rock Canyon and Kootenai Forestlands—with unanimous votes at the commission’s Oct. 28 meeting in Helena. The commission approval represents final approval for the Kooentai Forestlands project, while the Bad Rock Canyon project will go to the Montana Land Board on Nov. 15.
“It’s amazing, the amount of community support we’ve seen (for the Bad Rock Canyon Project),” Flathead Land Trust executive director Paul Travis said in testimony at the commission hearing.
The Bad Rock Canyon Project seeks to allow FWP to purchase 772 acres of forestlands along the Flathead River near Columbia Falls and manage the property as a wildlife management area with year-around public access. The project enjoys broad and strong local support. Funding for the project comes from the USFS Forest Legacy Program; the Habitat Montana Program; several local businesses, individuals, organizations, and foundations. The landowner, Glencore, also donated a portion of the value of the land.
The Kootenai Forestlands Phase II Conservation Easement authorizes Montana FWP to utilize Forest Legacy Program funding to purchase a conservation easement on 27,289 acres of Stimson Lumber Company. TPL has been a partner in this and other forest conservation projects in northwest Montana.
“The local support for this kind of work has been unwavering,” Dick Dolan, Rocky Mountain director for the Trust for Public Land told the commission. He saluted Stimson Lumber Company, who he said, “are willing—even enthusiastic—partners…who want to keep the land in forest protection, keep it open to the public, and conserve it for the long run.”
In addition to the Forest Legacy Program, funding was provided by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the Montana Fish and Wildlife Conservation Trust. The project would not have been possible without a major donation of land value by Stimson Lumber.
Bad Rock Canyon (left); Kootenai Forestlands (right)