640 Acres Added to the Lolo National Forest
To the joy of local outdoor enthusiasts, The Trust for Public Land and Forest Service announced that 640 acres have been added to Lolo National Forest, near Missoula. The Lolo National Forest is an extremely popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds, and is appreciated for its hunting and fishing opportunities.
“Our outdoor recreation opportunities are what draw many people to Montana, and The Trust for Public Land is thrilled to have the opportunity to provide the greater Missoula community with even more opportunities to get outside,” said Kristin Kovalik, Senior Project Manager with The Trust for Public Land.
The forest land, previously owned by Stimson Lumber Company, is a short drive east of Missoula near Beavertail Hill State Park. The successful acquisition supported by numerous hunting and fishing organizations will ensure permanent public access as well as motorized recreation opportunities on designated roads.
Barry Dexter of Stimson Lumber added, “Stimson Lumber Company recognizes the high recreational benefits to Sportsmen that this transaction offers. Ensuring that this property remains open for public access while maintaining a healthy forest, are important elements of the present and future use of this property. We are pleased to be a part of preserving this legacy for the people of Montana.”
Funding for this project was provided by the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Sportsmen Recreation Access Fund. The LWCF is funded by a small fraction of revenues generated by offshore oil and gas royalty payments; it is not supported with general taxpayer dollars. The Sportsmen’s Recreation Access Fund is available for projects which protect sites of hunting and fishing access.
“Insufficient access is the No. 1 reason cited by sportsmen for forgoing time afield; therefore this acquisition could not be more timely or important to hunters and anglers. It also speaks to the importance of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the nation’s most popular and effective access program.” Added John B. Sullivan III, Chairman, Montana Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. “Over the LWCF’s half-century-plus history, the program has enabled conservation and enhanced public access to millions of acres in the United States, including Montana.”
In addition to the recreation access and wildlife habitat benefits, consolidating ownership of these checkerboard lands will allow for coordinating public land management including fire protection and landscape level vegetation control projects.
“I’m thrilled to see this first phase of acquisition occur for the long-term interest of the public,” Jennifer Hensiek, Forest Service District Ranger for the Missoula Ranger District said. “The purchase of the checkerboard land is a great step forward in ensuring future connectivity of wildlife and fish habitat and continuing public access.”
This project would not have been possible without the help of the Montana Congressional delegation, and their steadfast support of the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
“This project will provide permanent public access to more than 6,000 acres of prime hunting, fishing, hiking and biking terrain within the Lolo National Forest,” Senator Jon Tester, D-MT, said. “This is yet another example of a great project made possible by the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which is one of the most important tools we have to improve public access to public lands. It also underscores the need to fully fund LWCF so more important conservation projects like this one can spur economic activity in Montana.”
“Increasing recreation access is one important tool of LWCF. I am happy to see it go to use here in Montana.” Said Senator Steve Daines, R-MT.
About The Trust for Public Land
The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. Millions of people live near a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year. To support The Trust for Public Land and share why nature matters to you, visit www.tpl.org.