On August 6, 2010, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP), Region One, released an environmental assessment (EA) for the proposed West Swan land conservation project. The EA addressed the environmental impacts of various conservation alternatives as well as the no-action alternative for this project. Proposed action alternatives for FWP use of available fish mitigation funds from the Bonneville Power Administration and other available federal funds were to purchase a conservation easement or fee-title interest (or a combination of both of these actions) on approximately 9,500 acres of former Plum Creek Timber Company lands in the Swan Valley. The project lands are located in a checkerboard pattern with the Swan River State Forest lands mostly west of Highway 83 in Lake County.
Comments received and our responses to comments regarding this proposal are summarized in the Decision Notice. No modifications were made in the draft EA as a result of the public review. Therefore, the draft EA will be considered the final EA.
The decision recommends that FWP and the Commission approve a course that allows the state to implement any one of the three possible action alternatives considered in the draft environmental assessment to ensure these lands are conserved for future generations. The final decision of which alternative is available to FWP will be dependent on the willingness of the landowner or seller (The Nature Conservancy in this instance), available funding, and final costs of the alternatives, which are not available at this time.
Based on this Decision Notice, FWP Commission has placed the West Swan Conservation Project on its next meeting agenda (October 7) for a final decision to go forward with all of the possible action alternatives. There will be opportunities for the public to comment during this and any subsequent FWP Commission meetings as well at any subsequently scheduled State Land Board meetings regarding this project. We anticipate the State Land Board will take final action at their October 18 or November 15 meeting, depending on the final decision of the FWP Commission.
The agenda for the upcoming FWP Commission meeting is posted on the following FWP web location: (http://fwp.mt.gov/doingBusiness/insideFwp/commission/default.html). For future State Land Board meetings and agendas, please consult the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation website for the State Land Board at (http://dnrc.mt.gov/About_Us/meetings.asp#lb). If you have any questions about this Decision Notice, please contact Joel Tohtz in the FWP Region One office (406-752-4570 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
Copies of the decision notice are available on the FWP website at fwp.mt.gov under Recent Public Notices; also at FWP Region One office, 490 N. Meridian Rd., Kalispell; Montana State Library, Helena; Flathead County Libraries in Kalispell and Bigfork; Seeley Lake Public Library, Seeley Lake; Polson City Library, Polson; Missoula County Library, Missoula; Swan Lake Library, Swan Lake; Swan Ecosystem Center, Condon.