Stimson Lumber sells 28,000 acres in Montana's lower Kootenai River valley into conservation easement; land will continue as working forest under US$12.8M transaction while providing public access, high level of species conservation, says official

LOS ANGELES , December 27, 2012 () –

Stimson Lumber Co. has sold 28,000 acres of its land in Montana for conservation easement, allowing it to remain a working forest while providing public access and a high level of species conservation, said Alex Diekmann, with the Trust for Public Land, reported The Billings Gazette on Dec. 23.

The US$12.8 million purchase of Stimson Lumber’s land in northwest Montana’s lower Kootenai River valley closed Dec. 19. The Trust for Public Land and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) will manage the easement.

Interest in the conservation easement began about a decade ago but was reenergized when Stimson Lumber stepped forward in 2010 with a “creative” idea for providing public access, said Jim Williams, regional wildlife manager for FWP, The Billings Gazette reported.

Stimson Lumber added its donation of land value to the support given for acquiring the conservation easement. Money also came from such sources as the U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Legacy Program and FWS’ Habitat Conservation Plan Land Acquisition grant program.

The Montana project ranks near the top of the Forest Legacy Program’s list in importance compared to others across the U.S. The federal agency provides matching grants to states for protecting threatened forests with a high value for conservation, reported The Billings Gazette.

The conservation easement includes one of the biggest areas of privately-owned land in the Cabinet-Yaak Grizzly Bear Recovery Area. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has designated six such regions in the lower 48 states.

The area is a “key stepping stone to linkage zones throughout the northern Rockies” for grizzly bears, as well as such species as wolverine, elk, lynx and fisher, said Diekmann, The Billings Gazette reported.

The primary source of this article is The Billings Gazette, Billings, Montana, on Dec. 23, 2012.

 

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