Service Provides Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation’s Amended Habitat Conservation Plan
For Immediate Release
May 24, 2018
DENVER – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) today released the final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation’s (DNRC) application to amend an incidental take permit to add 81,416 acres to their Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). Adding these lands to the HCP would increase the level of anticipated take of grizzly bear, Canada lynx, bull trout, and westslope cutthroat trout from forest management activities and would require an amended permit from the Service.
Since 2011, the DNRC has successfully implemented the HCP on more than 500,000 acres of land, providing conservation benefits to many species while supporting DNRC’s mandated responsibilities to provide revenues for Montana’s public schools and other institutions. The working lands under this HCP also promote the local economy through forest management jobs and mill operations. Applying the HCP’s conservation commitments to the additional lands will increase these economic benefits while protecting wildlife and their habitat.
The DNRC is also proposing to amend the HCP by incorporating the terms of a 2015 settlement agreement, which would not result in any changes to the permit. The terms of the settlement agreement focus primarily on adjusting the timing and location of forest management practices according to grizzly bear denning seasons and prioritizing certain bull trout habitat management actions.
The Endangered Species Act (ESA) prohibits “take” of a listed species. However, the ESA allows for the issuance of “incidental take” permits for endangered and threatened species when the take is the unintended result of otherwise lawful activities, and as long as the applicant designs and implements a HCP that minimizes and mitigates harm to the impacted species.
The final SEIS analyzes potential effects to wildlife covered by the HCP and other factors affecting the human environment that would result from implementing the proposed changes to the HCP and incidental take permit.
After the 30-day public inspection period, the Service will sign a Record of Decision and issue the amended permit if all ESA requirements are met. The Service takes seriously the need to find a balance between conserving protected species, complying with applicable laws, and addressing landowner management objectives.
To read the final HCP amendment and final SEIS please see our notice in the Federal Register.
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 –