Office of External Affairs
Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Mountain-Prairie Region
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228

For Immediate Release

November 19, 2012

Contacts:

Amy Thornburg; (303) 236-4345
Marla Trollan; (303)-236-4510; marla_trollan@fws.gov

               


U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to Conduct Public Meetings for Proposed Conservation Easement Program in Bear River Watershed

 

Mountains and Marshes in the Bear River Watershed © Hal Reeder
Mountains and Marshes in the Bear River Watershed © Hal Reeder

LAKEWOOD, Colo. – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) will host a series of open houses to provide information and receive public comment on the Service’s draft land protection plan and environmental assessment for the Bear River Watershed Conservation Area project. The proposed project would establish a new conservation easement program, and would allow the Service to purchase easements from willing sellers in the Bear River watershed whose lands provide important habitat for fish and wildlife resources.

"We are seeking common ground to achieve voluntary easements through a community-based conservation effort," said Noreen Walsh, Mountain-Prairie Acting Regional Director. “We want to listen to and hear from the communities in the watershed at every opportunity during the planning process.”

Service staff will share information, answer questions and take public comments about the easement program at open house meetings Dec. 4- Dec. 11, 2012. Comments can also be provided on the comment form found on the Service webpage at www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/planning/lpp/ut/brr/brr.html or by email at brwca_comments@fws.gov.

All meetings will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. as follows:

  • December 4, from 5:30 – 7:30 pm:   Cache County Fairgrounds Pavilion (450 South 500 West, Logan, Utah)
  • December 5, from 5:30 – 7:30 pm:   Rich County Senior Citizens Center (21 North Main Street, Randolph, Utah)
  • December 6, from 5:30 – 7:30 pm:  Bear Lake County Senior Citizens Center (300 Hospital Way, Montpelier, Idaho)
  • December 7, from 5:30 – 7:30 pm:   Franklin Fire Protection District (55 West 1st Street, Preston, Idaho)
  • December 10, from 5:30 – 7:30 pm: Cokeville High School (435 Pine Street, Cokeville, Wyoming)
  • December 11, from 5:30 – 7:30 pm: Uinta County Library (701 Main Street, Evanston, Wyoming) 

The meetings will give the public the opportunity to learn more about the Service’s proposal to purchase conservation easements from willing sellers on lands that provide important habitat for fish and wildlife resources in the Bear River watershed. Service conservation easements, in combination with easements acquired by partner organizations and other agencies, have previously proven to be effective tools for maintaining the rural character and agricultural land base vital to wildlife habitat conservation in other areas of the country.

Efforts by a number of organizations and private landowners led to the conservation of some of the important wildlife habitat in various locations throughout the watershed. Using a variety of conservation agreements, The Nature Conservancy, Sagebrush Steppe Regional Land Trust, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Grassland Reserve Program and Farm and Ranchland Protection Programs, and private landowners have worked cooperatively to conserve wetlands and wildlife habitat in Idaho, Utah and Wyoming.

The Service has completed an environmental assessment to analyze the potential impacts of a conservation easement program, and a draft land protection plan for the Bear River watershed. The open house meetings are part of the public comment period for the environmental assessment and land protection plan.

In May, the Service delayed the planning process for the BRWCA in order to continue to build strong partnerships in the watershed during the planning process. Since its inception, this project has enjoyed a high-level of support from local landowners, land trusts, conservation organizations and others. The delay ensured that all parties involved fully understood the project and their concerns were discussed and where possible resolved.

The Service has worked with county commissioners, the States of Idaho, Utah and Wyoming, conservation organizations, landowners, and other individuals to collect information about the Bear River Watershed Conservation Area project, wildlife and wildlife habitat, and the potential impacts of a conservation easement program in order to complete the environmental assessment. The outcome of the environmental assessment and the public input received will assist in determining whether the Service should proceed with the proposed conservation easement program.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service.

For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/. Connect with our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/USFWSMountainPrairie, follow our tweets at http://twitter.com/USFWSMtnPrairie, watch our YouTube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/usfws and download photos from our Flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwsmtnprairie/

 - FWS -