Fwp Is Seeking Public Comment On Commercial Use Of Wildlife Management Areas

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Amelia Island WMA RiverMontana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is seeking public comment on an environmental assessment and proposed commercial use management plan for wildlife management areas.

The FWP Commission adopted commercial use rules in 2006 on FWP lands, including WMAs, and required that a plan be in place before such uses can be authorized.

“The EA and management plan identify potential activities that may be authorized and the process the FWP regions will use in considering these requests,” said Steve Knapp, FWP Wildlife Division habitat bureau chief.

The EA concludes that anticipated commercial uses at WMAs could have a number of impacts on vegetation and wildlife, but no enduring negative effects.

Knapp said the proposed management plan provides details on the expected types of commercial activities to be authorized, permit terms and conditions, the application process and how the restricted commercial use permits will be allocated. A commercial use permit fee schedule is included in the management plan.

The commercial activities identified include: walks and hiking tours, trail rides by horse or bicycles, trail rides on ATVs or trail bikes, eco-tours by van or bus, photography and commercial hunting-dog training.

Fleecer WMAWhile interest in commercial activities on WMAs is not as high as it is for FWP fishing access sites and State Parks, planning now will help to ensure that FWP is able to manage these decisions consistently and well into the future,” Knapp said.

FWP owns or leases more than 330,000 acres around the state for the benefit of wildlife. WMAs represent Montana’s diverse landscapes, including wetlands, rivers, mountains and prairies and 449 species use these areas, according to the Montana Natural Heritage Program.

“WMAs are a unique resource that provide critical habitat for wildlife,” Knapp said. “Commercial activities on these lands must be carefully managed to ensure they continue to fulfill their primary purpose.”

The complete text of the EA and the statewide commercial use management plan for WMAs can be found on the FWP web site at fwp.mt.gov under Public Notices. Print copies are available by calling: 406-444-2612.

The public must comment by July 14 by email to: fwpwld [at] mt [dot] gov, or by mail to: Montana FWP, Attn: Steve Knapp, P.O. Box 200701, Helena, MT, 59620.