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Land Protection Plan

Proposed Lost Trail Conservation Area

Conservation easements | Public involvement | Contacts | Documents | Open / close all

A scenic picture of tall green trees among mountains

Lost Trail Conservation Area. Photo: USFWS

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) will be preparing an Environmental Assessment on a proposal to create the Lost Trail Conservation Area in Flathead and Lincoln Counties, Montana (see map). If created, the Conservation Area would authorize the Service to work with willing sellers to acquire conservation easements on up to 100,000 acres within the 116,000 acre Conservation Area boundary.

The conservation easements would secure public access, prevent residential development, and allow for sustainable commercial timber harvests. The easements would be similar to other existing easements in the area and similar to the 7,274-acre easement within the project area proposed for acquisition by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

The Service would use federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) dollars to purchase easements within the Conservation Area. LWCF dollars are derived from federal offshore oil and gas leasing and are not taxpayer dollars. No fee-title acquisition by the Service would be authorized.

Project Objectives

The primary objectives of this land project include:

  • Preserving important wildlife habitat and migration corridors;
  • Providing public recreation access; and
  • Allowing the property to be sustainably managed for timber production.

In-Progress Plan Status

Summer 2020

Conduct scoping/Prepare draft environmental assessment (EA) and land protection plan

Fall 2020

Release draft EA and land protection plan for public review

Winter 2020

Complete environmental review and final plan

Conservation easements »

As a voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and the Service, a conservation easement is a perpetual agreement that we would buy from a willing landowner. Easement prices offered to willing sellers would be determined by an appraisal completed by a Service-contracted appraiser familiar with the local market.

The conservation easements would secure public access, prevent residential development, and allow for sustainable commercial timber harvests. Easement land would stay in private ownership. Property taxes and invasive plant control would be the responsibility of landowners. Contracts would not restrict grazing on easement lands.

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Public involvement »

The 30-day scoping period will begin on July 8, 2020. Please submit either written or e-mailed comments by August 6, 2020 to:

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Attn: Ben Gilles
922 Bootlegger Trail
Great Falls, MT 59404

Comments received during this scoping period will help the Service determine public interest, identify potential issues that would require further analysis, and may provide insight for refining the proposal or for developing and analyzing one or more alternatives. Upon completion of the scoping phase, the Service will determine next steps, which may include conducting an environmental analysis with additional opportunity for public input or taking no further action on the proposed project.

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Contacts »

Western Montana Complex Project Leader
Ben Gilles
922 Bootlegger Trail
Great Falls, MT 59404
(406) 217-2287

Lost Trail National Wildlife Refuge
Kevin Shinn, Refuge Manager
6295 Pleasant Valley Rd
Marion, Montana 59925
Phone (406) 260-5192

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Documents »


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.
Last modified: July 10, 2020
All Images Credit to and Courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Unless Specified Otherwise.
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