Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Massive conservation easement a done deal

| November 23, 2021 7:00 AM

The Trust for Public Land, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and Stimson Lumber Co. recently completed a project that permanently protects the resources on more than 27,000 acres in Northwest Montana.

Phase II of the Kootenai Forestlands Conservation Project consists of 27,289 acres of highly productive Stimson timberland southeast of Libby, The Trust for Public Land said in a press release Thursday. Through the partnership, vision and conservation ethic of Stimson Lumber Co. and FWP, the public will have free, permanent access to the land that is protected through a conservation easement, the release reads.

“Stimson Lumber Co. strongly supports working forestlands which provide quality recreational opportunities, excellent fish and wildlife habitat and a healthy environment,” Andrew Miller, president and CEO, said in a prepared statement. “Working forestlands also promote vibrant, healthy forests which contribute to important rural economies. ... Present and future generations will appreciate the benefits of this important project.”

Funding for the Phase II project was provided by the USDA’s Forest Legacy Program, NFWF’s Acres for America and Great Migrations Program, Montana Fish and Wildlife Conservation Trust and a donation of land value from Stimson. This landscape is key winter range and a migratory corridor for elk, mule deer, white-tailed deer, and moose. It also will ensure protection of critical habitat for threatened species like bull trout, grizzly bear and Canada lynx found on the property, the release said.

“The most successful conservation efforts involve collaboration, and the Kootenai Forestlands project is a prime example,” said FWP Regional Supervisor Jim Williams. “This project has brought together public and private entities to support working lands, wildlife habitat, and public access for recreation.”

The project complements the recently completed 22,295-acre Kootenai Forestlands conservation easement Phase I and the 27,992-acre Kootenai Valleys conservation easement, and is adjacent to the 142,000-acre Thompson-Fisher conservation easement. Collectively, nearby conservation projects in Montana and Idaho have protected a quarter of a million acres of quality forested and aquatic ecosystems.