USFWS proposes 100,000 acre conservation area in Flathead/Lincoln counties
By Moosetrack Megan

Posted: September 21, 2020

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) released a draft environmental assessment and draft land protection plan outlining a proposal to establish the Lost Trail Conservation Area in northwest Montana. These documents are now available for a 30-day public review and comment.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has prepared a draft Environmental Assessment and Land Protection Plan for a proposal to create the Lost Trail Conservation Area in Flathead and Lincoln Counties, Montana. 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 120,000 acre Conservation Area boundary.

The proposed Lost Trail Conservation Area project integrates landscape-level wildlife and habitat conservation efforts undertaken by the Service and a wide range of partners for the past 20 years. The project would protect crucial wildlife habitat and migration corridors between Glacier National Park, the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness, the Selkirk Mountains, and into the Coeur d’Alene Mountains in Idaho. These areas support threatened and endangered species including the grizzly bear, Canada lynx, and Spalding’s catchfly. The land within the project area is also a popular location for elk hunting and would support a vital migration corridor for elk and mule deer as identified by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. If created, the Conservation Area would secure the public’s access in perpetuity.

To establish the Conservation Area, the Service would work with willing sellers to acquire conservation easements within the project boundary (see map). The Conservation Area would provide public access, prevent residential development, and allow for sustainable commercial timber harvests across up to 100,000 acres. No taxpayer dollars would be used to purchase the easements. Instead, the Service would make purchases using federal dollars from the now permanently authorized Land and Water Conservation Fund, which uses federal offshore oil and gas leases to support the conservation of natural resources across America.

The draft environmental assessment and draft land protection plan are now available for public review and comment. The public comment period will last for 30 days, closing on October 16, 2020. To submit comments, email LTRCA_comments@fws.gov or write to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Attn: Lost Trail Comments, 922 Bootlegger Trail, Great Falls, Montana 59404.

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: FacebookTwitterFlickrYouTube, and Instagram.