Thursday, December 8, 2022

Montana FWP Moves Forward with Land Deals Ahead of Program Cuts


by Tom Kuglin, Independent Record

HELENA – Though the Legislature has stripped Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ authority to purchase land in the future, the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission gave approval Thursday for the department to continue negotiations already underway for the purchase of seven properties across the state.

“We can make fee title acquisitions under current negotiations right now for projects in the pipeline, but if the ideal opportunity came up, we would not have the authority to do that,” said FWP director Jeff Hagener.

House Bill 403, sponsored by Rep. Dave Hagstrom, R-Billings, appropriated money for state agency capital projects for the next biennium, including major repairs, environmental cleanup and land acquisition. For FWP, however, the bill excludes the acquisition of land. The provision came after calls from some lawmakers to end FWP purchasing of land.

The department still has the authority to enter into conservation or access easements with private landowners.

While the authority to acquire land has been stripped, effective July 1, 2015, that did not eliminate habitat acquisition programs, and money will continue to accumulate in those accounts, Hagener said. He expects that lawmakers in the next session may try to eliminate the programs entirely, but FWP still has the authority to proceed with land purchases negotiated prior to HB403.

CLICK HERE to read the full article and a listing of planned purchases



Source:  Missoulian

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