Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) is seeking public comment on a proposal to purchase 640-acres adjacent to FWP’s Marshall Creek Wildlife Management Area (WMA) northwest of Seeley Lake.

The proposed Deer Creek Addition to the WMA would permanently protect one of the last remaining privately-held reaches of Deer Creek, a bull trout spawning and genetically-pure westslope cutthroat trout habitat. It would also protect acreage that is critical to a variety of wildlife species, including lynx and grizzly bear.

The proposed acquisition would consolidate public ownership in a key area for fish and wildlife conservation, and secure additional public access for hunting, fishing and other recreation on the Marshall Creek WMA.

FWP is taking comment on the proposal through July 2 at 5 p.m. and will hold a public hearing in Seeley Lake on June 18 at 7 p.m. at the Seeley Lake Community Center (just north of the town of Seeley Lake on Hwy 83).

FWP purchased the existing 24,200-acre Marshall Creek WMA in July 2011 as part of the landmark Montana Legacy Project where over 310,000 acres of industrial forestland was permanently conserved for fish, wildlife, sustainable timber production, and public access.

The lands in the proposed Deer Creek addition are currently owned by Plum Creek Timber Co (PCTC). As proposed, the acreage would be purchased and held by Five Valley’s Land Trust during the summer of 2012, and FWP would then purchase the parcel from FVLT and consolidate it with the existing Marshall Creek WMA in the fall of 2012.

Funding for the purchase would come from grants from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Montana Fish and Wildlife Conservation Trust, and Milltown Bull Trout Habitat Enhancement Fund. FWP is seeking additional funding from the Missoula County Open Space Bond grant program.

A draft environmental assessment and management plan have been prepared for this proposal.  Find the documents online at fwp.mt.gov under “Public Notices.” Or, request them by mail from Region 2 FWP, 3201 Spurgin Rd., Missoula 59804; phone 406-542-5500; email shrose@mt.gov.

Comments can be submitted online at fwp.mt.gov under “Public Notices,” or should be directed to Sharon Rose by mail to the address above, phone to 406-542-5540, or email to shrose@mt.gov.   Comments must be received by FWP no later than 5:00 p.m. on July 2, 2012.

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