October 1, 2019

Montana: Public Meeting and Comment Period for Proposed Coal Creek Conservation Easement

Contact: Ellary TuckerWilliams, Inter-Mountain Western States Coordinator

On September 18, the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks announced a public comment period and meeting pertaining to the proposed purchase of two perpetual conservation easements.

Collectively referred to as the “Coal Creek Conservation Easement,” the purchase would include 10,072 deeded acres in Custer and Prairie counties, next to the 25,920-acre Fluss Ranch Conservation Easement and a 12,960-acre block of public land. With the purchase of the Coal Creek Conservation Easement, 41,440-acres would be under conservation easement and 54,400-acres would be open to public hunting access, all in one large block.

Monies for the Coal Creek Conservation Easement would come from a combination of Natural Resource Conservation Service Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) funding and Habitat Montana funding, which is derived from the sale of hunting licenses, ensuring that the entire property would remain as a single unit in perpetuity.

The proposed Coal Creek Conservation Easement would continue to provide habitat for mule deer, sage grouse, white-tailed deer, wild turkey, sharp-tailed grouse, pronghorn, elk, and aims to protect intact sagebrush grasslands and over five miles of uninterrupted silver sagebrush bottom riparian zone. In addition to the habitat benefits, the easement is expected to provide a minimum of 600 hunter days annually for mule deer, upland game birds, pronghorn, whitetail and occasionally elk.

A Draft Environmental Assessment is available for online review and public comment, which closes at 5:00 pm on October 17, 2019. There will also be a public meeting on October 3 at the Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks Region 7 Office in Miles City from 6:30-8:30 pm for all interested individuals.

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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