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Woods Bay and Horseshoe Lake Fishing Access Site Forest Management Projects Decision Notice

10/09/2019

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) is proposing to conduct forest management activities at two Fishing Access Sites (FASs) in Region One. FWP proposes to conduct approximately 20 acres of forest management treatments to improve forest conditions at Woods Bay and Horseshoe Lake FASs in the Bigfork and Ferndale areas in Lake County. The treatments would involve the removal of primarily conifer trees (both of merchantable and nonmerchantable value) for the purpose of mitigating hazard trees in developed areas, reducing hazardous fuels in the wildland urban interface (WUI), and increasing resiliency to insects and diseases. Tree removal would be accomplished through a combination of mechanized methods. The treatments would occur in the fall and winter seasons to minimize the impacts to public recreation and minimize ground disturbance. Any revenue generated by the sale of forest products from the project would go to offset the cost of project’s design and administration.

(Region 1 - Decision Notices)

Blackfoot River FASs Forest Management Project--Decision Notice

10/08/2019

FWP has issued a decision notice (DN) for its proposal to conduct forest management treatments on approximately 96 acres of forested land in 4 FWP Fishing Access Sites (FASs) along the Blackfoot River northeasterly of Bonner. The FASs are K. Ross Toole, Johnsrud Park, and Corrick’s River Bend in Missoula County, and River Junction in Powell County. FWP completed the public review of this proposal and its draft environmental assessment (EA), and FWP accepts the draft EA as final in the DN. FWP will request approval for this proposed project from the Fish & Wildlife Commission at its regularly scheduled meeting on October 17, 2019 in Helena.

(Region 2 - Decision Notices)

Antelope Coulee Conservation Easement Decision Notice

10/02/2019

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) has completed an Environmental Assessment (EA) for a proposal to purchase a conservation easement totaling 9,706 acres in Treasure County, Montana. The proposed easement is referred to as the “Antelope Coulee Conservation Easement”. The Land is located north of Hysham along the Yellowstone River and is in FWP’s Administrative Region 7, Deer/Elk Hunting District 701. The Antelope Coulee Conservation Easement is adjacent to the FWP Isaac Homestead Wildlife Management Area and publicly accessible DNRC land. The Amelia Island Wildlife Management Area and Amelia Island Fishing Access Site are directly across the Yellowstone River from the proposed Easement on the south shore. Based on the EA, on which a total of 14 comments were received, and FWP’s evaluation, it is our decision to accept the draft EA as supplemented by this Decision Notice and changes herein as final, and to recommend proceeding with the proposed Antelope Coulee Conservation Easement.

(Region 7 - Decision Notices)

Removal and Remediation of Elbow Lake Dam—Draft EA

09/30/2019

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) and Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) seek public review of their proposal to remove the unauthorized Elbow Lake dam along the Clearwater River (south of Seeley Lake in Missoula County, MT) and restore the site to its approximate historic natural condition and elevation. Overall goals include: (1) alleviate ongoing violations of state and federal regulations on state trust property, (2) restore natural streambed conditions on the river in the vicinity of the dam, (3) eliminate the dam that acts as a partial barrier to the natural movement of fish and recreationists, and (4) reduce the probability of continued violations at the site. Need for the project stems from legal obligations to alleviate ongoing violations of environmental protection laws and to mitigate unauthorized activities occurring on state lands. The proposed actions, objectives, and justifications are consistent with management direction and legal responsibilities of both FWP and DNRC.

(Region 2 - Restoration & Rehabilitation)

Canyon Ferry WMA Prescribed Fire Program Decision Notice

09/27/2019

The attached decision notice is for the proposed potential use of prescribed fire for habitat management on the Canyon Ferry Ferry Wildlife Management Area (CFWMA). Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) would utilize prescribed fire on the Canyon Ferry WMA as needed to improve wildlife habitat conditions for waterfowl, upland game birds (primarily pheasant) and big game (primarily white-tailed deer and moose). Prescribed fire would be utilized to revitalize decadent stands of dense nesting cover and other areas of herbaceous vegetation, improve the structure of decadent stands of cattails and bulrushes or to help kill cattails if needed to create more open water in ponds, and to regenerate decadent stands of willows and sprouting shrubs. Prescribed fire may also be used to at least temporarily remove willows and other dense stands of brush from pond shorelines in areas to improve waterfowl access to adjacent nesting and brood-rearing habitat. Some mechanical treatment (slashing) of vegetation might occur in some areas prior to any prescribed burn to help manage/control the prescribed burn. Prescribed fire would be used as needed around the Canyon Ferry WMA as conditions and funding allows. The location and amount of acreage to be burned in any one year (if any) would vary on an annual basis. Prescribed burns would typically occur during the dormant season in late winter to early spring (late February – early April) as conditions allow, unless it was deemed that another time frame was more appropriate to achieve management objectives. Prescribed fire would not be used to burn irrigated agricultural areas that are cropped by agricultural lessees. Burn plans and prescribed fires for habitat improvement on the CFWMA would be done by USFS and/or DNRC (Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation) fire personnel. Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is required by the Montana Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) to assess significant potential impacts of a proposed action to the human and physical environment. In compliance with MEPA, an Environmental Assessment (EA) was completed for the proposed project by FWP and released for public comment on August 12, 2019. Public comments were taken for 30 days (through September 13, 2019). Notices regarding the EA were sent out to interested parties, and legal notices were printed in the Bozeman Chronicle, Helena Independent Record, and the Broadwater County Reporter. The Environmental Assessment was also posted on the FWP webpage: fwp.mt.gov/news/publicNotices/environmentalAssessments/plans/ Two individuals submitted comments during the official comment period. A summary of those comments and FWP’s responses can be found in the Decision Notice. Based on the Environmental Assessment, public comments received, and benefits and risks associated with this project, it is my decision to go forward with the Preferred Alternative (Alternative B) to utilize prescribed fire as needed around the Canyon Ferry WMA to improve habitat conditions for waterfowl, upland game birds (primarily pheasants) and big game (primarily white-tailed deer and moose). I find there to be no significant impacts on the human and physical environments associated with this project. Therefore, I conclude that the Environmental Assessment is the appropriate level of analysis, and that an Environmental Impact Statement is not required.

(Region 3 - Decision Notices)

Selway Creek Westslope Cutthroat Trout Conservation Project Decision Notice

09/27/2019

A Decision Notice has been prepared to remove non-native trout from over 30 miles of Selway Creek, a stream within the Red Rock sub-basin, and its tributaries and restore an unaltered Westslope Cutthroat Trout (WCT) population. Non-native Brown, Brook and Rainbow x Cutthroat hybrid trout are present in Selway Creek. The proposed action is to use rotenone to remove non-native trout. Following non-native trout removal, WCT would be refounded by translocating aboriginal, genetically unaltered fish from up to eight populations in the Red Rock and Beaverhead sub-basins for up to five years. To provide angling opportunities while the population is being re-established, sterile triploid catchable-size WCT would be stocked in Selway Meadows for one to three years immediately following removal of non-native fish. FWP received six letters of support from organizations and individuals during a 30-day comment period ending 9 September 2019. There was one comment in opposition from an individual who preferred brook trout. There were no attendees at a public meeting held in Dillon, MT on 3 September 2019. Based on the Environmental Assessment and need to conserve Westslope Cutthroat Trout, it is my decision to proceed with the Selway Creek Westslope Cutthroat Trout conservation project. I find there to be no significant impacts on the human and physical environments associated with this project. Therefore, I conclude that the Environmental Assessment is the appropriate level of analysis, and that an Environmental Impact Statement is not required.

(Region 3 - Decision Notices)

Public Scoping Notice -- MFWP Lands Project Proposal Whiskey Ridge Conservation Easement

09/24/2019

Montana Fish, Wildlife, & Parks (MFWP) will be preparing an Environmental Analysis on a proposal to purchase a 4,400-acre perpetual conservation easement (CE) in Fergus County near Winifred, MT (Exhibit A). The proposed “Whiskey Ridge Conservation Easement”, owned by Dave Bergum, would provide protection, enhancement, and public access to a unique combination of central Montana habitats. The Department invites the public to identify any issues and concerns related to this proposal (scoping). Comments received during this scoping period will help FWP determine public interest, identify potential issues that would require further analysis and may provide insight for refining the proposal or for developing and analyzing additional alternatives.

(Region 4 - Public Scoping)

Therriault Creek Riparian Revegetation Project Decision Notice

09/18/2019

Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks partnered with The Kootenai River Network (KRN), the USFWS Partners for Wildlife, and the local landowner to complete the Therriault Creek Restoration Project during the summer of 2005. This project reconstructed a total of 9,100 feet of entirely new stream channel that restored the stream channel, and approximately doubled the stream length by increasing meander frequency. Since 2005, MFWP has implemented three phases of revegetation efforts to increase woody vegetation cover. Previous revegetation efforts have been successful, but natural woody revegetation is slow to expand into untreated areas of the project. MFWP proposes to build on previously demonstrated successful techniques to continue the restoration of riparian restoration at the Therriault Creek Restoration Project site. The proposed project includes implementing three types of treatments to increase woody vegetation cover and improve overall riparian/floodplain function.

(Region 1 - Decision Notices)

Coal Creek Conservation Easement Draft EA

09/18/2019

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) has prepared a Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) for a proposal to purchase two separate and distinct but overlapping perpetual Conservation Easements (CEs) totaling 10,072.22 deeded acres in Custer and Prairie Counties, Montana. The proposed easements will be referred to as the “Coal Creek Conservation Easement”. The reason for two separate CEs, rather than one single CE, is to take advantage of available funding sources, which have somewhat unique requirements. The first CE would utilize primarily NRCS Agricultural Lands Easements (ALE) funding. The ALE program does not fit well for areas under tillage agriculture. Therefore, the ALE CE would not include land with a tillage history. The second CE would utilize Habitat Montana dollars (derived from the sale of hunting licenses) to fund the remaining acres but would encumber the entire property to ensure that the land remains in a single unit in the future. Both CEs would be administered by FWP. A Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) is available for review and public comment.

(Region 7 - Conservation Easements)

 

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11 public notices are currently available for public comment.