Public Comment Sought on Proposed Habitat Conservation Plan Amendment for the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation
For Immediate Release
December 7, 2021
DENVER - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is seeking public comment on the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation’s (DNRC) application to amend their existing Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) to extend the incidental take permit coverage to an additional 14,642 acres of acquired lands.
The proposed amendment would extend the take coverage to those 14,642 acres for species already covered by the existing forest management HCP, including three species listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA)—the grizzly bear, Canada lynx, and bull trout—and the unlisted West slope cutthroat trout and Columbia redband trout. If approved, the take will not reduce the likelihood of the survival and recovery of these species in the wild.
The 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 the applicant designs and implements a HCP that minimizes and mitigates harm to the covered species.
Tomorrow, the Service will formally publish a notice of availability (NOA) in the Federal Register to alert the public that the applicant’s requested amendment to their HCP is ready for public comment and review. This document is available for public inspection today in the Federal Register Reading Room. Public comments will be accepted for 30 days from date of publication in the Federal Register. The Service will consider all public comments before making a decision. Throughout this process, the Service strives to conserve protected species and address public concerns, while complying with the Endangered Species Act and other laws.
Associated documents, including the previously finalized HCP and the Service’s 2018 final supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) and record of decision (ROD) are available online for reference at www.regulations.gov by searching for Docket No. FWS-R6-ES-2021-0096. The Service reviewed the prior NEPA analysis and determined that the final 2018 SEIS and associated ROD includes the analysis necessary for this amendment.
The public can submit comments electronically via www.regulations.gov or via the Montana DNRC website at http://dnrc.mt.gov/divisions/trust/forest-management/hcp/hcp-announcements. Comments will also be accepted via U.S. mail or hand-delivery to Public Comments Processing, Attn: Docket No. FWS–R6–ES–2021–0096; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters, MS: BPHC; 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA, 22041–3803.
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. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen in the West, visit our website, or connect with us through any of these social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, and Instagram.
– FWS –