Tue Mar 12 10:24:00 MDT 2013
Seven Sisters WMA was purchased by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (MFWP) to maintain a woodland/cropland complex to benefit a diversity of wildlife while maximizing hunting opportunities, primarily for white-tailed deer and pheasants. The proposed action is to continue a sharecrop agreement on 122 ac of the WMA with a long-time, competent lessee and to initiate a sharecrop agreement on 201 ac of the WMA that were purchased in December 2012. For both leases, lessees will cultivate and retain a portion of the hay/grain crop harvest, leaving the remaining crop standing for wildlife use during winter months. The benefit and purpose of both leases is to provide winter habitat and forage, primarily for wintering pheasants, deer, and turkeys. The WMA annually winters an average 250 white-tailed deer. Standing crops also benefit migrating waterfowl and a variety of other wildlife species. The area is open to public hunting during all commission-approved seasons, and provides opportunity for deer, upland game bird, and waterfowl hunting. FWP’s analysis supports the agricultural lease of Elk Island WMA as proposed. We find there to be no significant impacts on the human and physical environments associated with this project. Therefore, we conclude that the Environmental Assessment is the appropriate level of analysis, and that an Environmental Impact Statement is not required. After review of this proposal, it is my decision to accept the draft EA as supplemented by this Decision Notice as final, and to recommend the continuation of the agricultural lease for Seven Sisters WMA.