|The Mountain-Prairie Region|
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228
November 30, 2004
Contact: Gary Sullivan, (406) 727-7400, ext. 25
AND WILDLIFE SERVICE TO HOST OPEN HOUSE MEETINGS
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will hold a series of open house meetings during the third week of December to discuss a proposal to expand the Service’s conservation easement program along the Rocky Mountain Front. The meetings will give the public the opportunity to learn more about the Service’s proposal to purchase conservation easements from willing sellers along the Front whose lands provide important habitat for fish and wildlife resources. The proposed expansion of the program would not authorize any fee title acquisition or outright purchase of private land.
Service staff will share information, answer questions and take public comments about the easement program at the following open house meetings:
“Using conservation easements, the Service and private landowners have worked cooperatively to conserve nearly 60,000 acres of wildlife habitat in western Montana,” said Gary Sullivan, State Coordinator for the Service’s Realty program. “Conservation easements are proven, effective tools for maintaining the rural character and agricultural land base vital to wildlife habitat conservation in this state.”
The Service is initiating an environmental assessment to analyze the potential impacts of a conservation easement program on the Front. The open house meetings are part of the scoping phase for the EA, during which the Service is working with county commissioners, the State of Montana, conservation organizations, landowners, and other individuals to collect additional information about the Front, wildlife and wildlife habitat, and the potential impacts of a conservation easement program. Following scoping, the Service will complete the assessment, the outcome of which will determine whether the Service should proceed with the proposed conservation easement program.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 545 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign and Native American tribal governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.
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