Flathead Wildlife, Inc. (FWI) strongly supports the proposed Lost Trail Conservation Area. FWI is the oldest (64 years) and largest sportsmen and women group in northwest Montana. Our primary goals are preserving our hunting and fishing heritage, protecting and enhancing wildlife habitat, preserving and enhancing public access to public lands, and involving youth in the outdoors. The proposed Lost Trail Conservation Area could support all those goals.
The 9,225 acre Lost Trail National Wildlife Refuge provides excellent habitat for a significant elk herd along with whitetail deer, moose and waterfowl. The area also sustains mule deer, bobcats, mountain lions, lynx, coyotes, wolves and black and grizzly bears. The NWR is a key part of linkages for movement of animals. But the Lost Trail NWR is essentially an island, surrounded by mainly private land. The recent sale of the bulk of those lands to Southern Pine Plantations raises concerns about future development and associated loss of habitat, linkages and public access. FWI strongly supported the proposed conservation easement of 7,274 acres of Weyerhauser lands by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks immediately south and adjacent to Lost Trail NWR. That CE effectively nearly doubled the potential of the refuge. The proposed Lost Trail Conservation Area would build on that with the goal of protecting up to 100,000 acres within an 116,000 acre area. CEs would exclude residential development while protecting traditional uses such as timber harvest, grazing, wildlife habitat, wildlife linkages and public access.
This proposed Conservation Area is well timed hopefully to take advantage of increased funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund if the Great Outdoors Recreation Act to permanently fund LWCF passes Congress. Flathead Wildlife commends USFWS for your foresight and strongly supports moving ahead.
Jim Vashro, President, FWI
Find notice and documents at:
Scoping Comments accepted until August 6. Comment to:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Attention: Ben Gilles
922 Bootlegger Trail Great Falls, MT 59404