Office of External Affairs
Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

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

U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE

BENTON LAKE NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE COMPLEX

922 Bootlegger Trail, Great Falls, MT, 59404

 

May 7, 2010

 

Contact: Greg Neudecker, (406) 793-7400

              Kathy Burchett, (406) 727-7400, ext. 222

              Toni Griffin (303) 236-4378

   

U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE TO HOST PUBLIC MEETING ON

PROPOSAL TO ESTABLISH CONSERVATION EASEMENT PROGRAM

 IN THE SWAN VALLEY

 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will hold a meeting to discuss a proposal to establish a conservation easement program in the Swan Valley. The meeting will provide the public an opportunity to learn more about the Service’s proposal to purchase conservation easements from willing sellers whose lands provide important habitat for fish and wildlife resources in the Swan Valley.

 

Working cooperatively with private landowners, the Service has used conservation easements to successfully conserve over 100,000 acres along the Rocky Mountain Front and in the Blackfoot and Centennial Valleys of western Montana.  This approach enjoys broad support from hunters, anglers, landowners, and elected officials. 

 

Service staff will share information, answer questions and take public comments about the conservation area proposals at the meeting, which is an “open house” format and scheduled for:

 

Tuesday, May 18 in Condon, Montana at the Swan Valley Community Center, 6799 Hwy. 83, from 4-6 pm.

 

The Service is proposing to establish a voluntary, incentive-based easement program to conserve fish and wildlife habitat on private land the Swan Valley. Conservation easements are a proven, effective tool for connecting and protecting important habitat for fish and wildlife species while also sustaining the Valley’s working landscapes and traditional economies.  The Service manages conservation easements as part of the National Wildlife Refuge System.

 

Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act, the Service is initiating an environmental assessment to analyze the potential impacts of the conservation easement proposal. The May 18 meeting is part of the scoping phase for the environmental assessment, during which the Service is working with county commissioners, the State of Montana, conservation organizations, landowners, and other interested parties to collect information about the project areas, wildlife and wildlife habitat, and the potential impacts of the proposal. Following scoping, the Service will complete the assessment, the outcome of which will determine whether the Service should proceed with establishing an easement program in the Swan Valley.    

 

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 www.fws.gov.