The Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation Helena Unit of the Central Land Office has received an easement application for public park and recreation purposes on Department managed State Trust Lands in the southwestern area of Great Falls immediately off Fox Farm Road, described as Government Lots 6 and 7 in Section 23, Township 20 North, Range 3 East. The application proposes to encumber 79.27 acres of the total 85.01-acre state-owned tract. The remaining 5.74 acres in the southeast corner of the tract is currently leased for commercial purposes and will not be included within the proposed easement.
The Missouri River Open Lands Preservation engaged Cascade County to apply for the easement. Easements on State Trust Land may only be held by a qualified public entity, such as a local or county government. MROLP shall bear all costs associated with the submission.
“We have been working with Missouri River Open Lands Preservation for several years on potential options for their conservation interest on the parcel that meet our mandate to generate revenue for the school trust beneficiaries,” said Heidi Crum, Helena Unit Manager. “We are excited to see the application move forward and will work to keep the community informed of next steps.”
The State was granted land in Montana by the U.S. Congress, including through the Enabling Act of 1889. Known as State Trust Lands, the Department is constitutionally mandated to manage and lease the land to generate revenue held in trust to support Montana common schools and other institutions.
In the case of an easement application, a one-time payment for a perpetual easement is paid into the trust. The trust that would benefit from the potential easement payment is the University of Montana.
The 30-day comment period pertaining to the easement application opens May 15, 2023, at 8:00 a.m. (MST) with comments accepted until 5:00 p.m. (MST) on June 15, 2023. Substantive comments are needed to inform the Department’s decision-making. A substantive comment could be one that identifies an alternative or resources issues and concerns. The Department does not base its decisions on a count or tally of how many comments are for or against the project or how many times a certain resource issue and concern or alternative is brought up.
For further information on the proposed project and to submit comment online, visit: https://dnrc.mt.gov/TrustLand/land-transactions-easements/Fox-Farm-Easement-Application. Comments may also be submitted in writing to this address: DNRC Helena Unit, Attn: Fox Farm Easement Application Comments, 8001 N. Montana Ave., Helena, MT 59602
At the conclusion of the 30-day comment period, substantive comments will be responded to and considered in the environmental analysis document which helps inform the Department decision on the permit application. The completed environmental analysis document will be published online.
To receive future updates on the project, sign up for the email list at https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/MTDNRC/signup/36730.