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Last Updated:
05/14/2019 12:35:34 MDT
The BLM is releasing for public comment the Missoula Draft Resource Management Plan / Draft Environmental Impact Statement (Draft Plan) on May 17, 2019 with publication of the Notice of Availability in the Federal Register.  The Draft Plan provides management goals, objectives, and direction for about 163,000 acres of surface lands primarily in the Missoula, Granite and Powell counties; and approximately 250,000 acres of subsurface lands in Flathead, Granite, Lake, Lincoln, Mineral, Missoula, Powell, Ravalli, and Sanders Counties.
Key Points
- The Draft Plan covers the 163,000 acres of surface lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in western Montana. These public lands plays a small but important role in the western Montana’s social, ecological, and economic well-being. As stewards of these lands, the BLM has a responsibility to ensure that our management is effectively meeting our legal mandates and the needs of the communities in western Montana.

- The need for the plan revision is caused by observed changes to natural resources and resource uses over the past 33 years. The BLM has acquired more lands for recreation and public access; those acres need comprehensive management direction. We’ve observed shifts in the vegetation on the landscape, increases in the people and ways they recreate on public lands, and new regional strategies to address special status species including the Canada lynx, grizzly bear, and bull trout. New information, inventories, and trends related to resources such as recreation and lands with wilderness characteristics need to be considered.

- The purpose for the plan revision is to make land use plan decisions guiding the management of BLM lands on the basis of multiple use and sustained yield. Specifically, the following purposes for action are necessary for the BLM to manage for its distinctive contribution to the broader landscape in western Montana:
• Maintain or restore ecological sustainability for forests and grasslands to provide quality habitat for terrestrial and aquatic wildlife species, and provide opportunities for sustainable timber harvest and livestock grazing;
• Provide for recreation opportunities and improve public access;
• Manage for other social and scientific values.

- The Draft Plan includes three alternatives – the No Action (1986 plan), the preferred alternative, and the third alternative. One of these  alternatives or a variation of may be selected for the Proposed Plan / Final EIS.
• The No Action Alternative emphasizes recreation (hunting, snowmobiling, river- related, and Garnet Ghost Town), big game habitat management, and timber production.
• The Preferred Alternative emphasizes access for recreation (hunting, mountain biking, snowmobiling, hiking, river-related, and Garnet Ghost Town), special status species and big game habitat management, timber products, and fire resiliency through more active vegetation management.
• Alternative C emphasizes wildlife-dependent recreation opportunities (hunting and fishing), special status species and big game habitat management, less timber production, and less active vegetation management.

- The BLM conducted early engagement in Endangered Species Act consultation and is closely coordinating with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as well as Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks.

- The BLM encourages all interested members of the public, other agencies, and Tribal governments to submit comments and to participate in the upcoming open house on Thursday, July 11 from 4p – 6p at the University of Montana. Feedback submitted by the public during public envisioning (March 2016), public scoping (January 2017), and preliminary alternatives release (January 2018) provided helpful information for the BLM to consider in crafting alternatives and analyzing effects.