Connect with us

Local News

Southwest Montana’s large conservation area is under consideration



Butte, Montana – In order to acquire conservation easements from willing private landowners, the U.S. government is seeking to designate roughly 6 million acres of land here in southwest Montana as the Missouri Headwaters Conservation Area.

“It keeps the landscape intact. It prevents subdivision, it keeps it from being broken up into 20-10 five-acre lots and having houses built on it and it keeps the grass or sage or whatever the native ground intact,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Refuge Manager Ben Gilles.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would attempt to buy easements from private landowners for up to 250,000 acres if allowed. The easements would serve as open corridors for wildlife migration.

“There’s absolutely no restriction on grazing, the number of cows anything like that, we want to see people running successful ranches,” said Gilles.

Certain groups have doubts about the proposal.

“It seems like a very, very expansive and broad-brushed approach with very little information,” said Matt Vincent with the Montana Mining Association.

The Montana Mining Association is worried about how identifying this sizable region, which spans parts of five counties, may affect allowed activities like mining, which is frequently the subject of legal disputes.

“All of a sudden you have this additional weight on the side of conservation, it’s just one more likelihood or reason to sue,” said Vincent.

Conservation areas, according to Fish and Wildlife, don’t impede business.

“There’s a Dakota Grasslands Conservation Area in North Dakota that’s nearly 30 million acres. The city of Bismark is in that conservation area, there’s a large coal strip mine inside that conservation area, you know, all that stuff continues to go on,” said Gilles.

The idea will be the subject of a public hearing on October 23 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Butte Public Archives.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *