The Montana Department of Resources and Conservation began developing a 50-year multi-species habitat conservation plan (HCP) in 2004. The plan covers over 500,000 acres of forested Montana school trust lands. DNRC’s plan is intended to mitigate impacts of forest management activities on grizzly bears, Canada lynx, bull trout, western cutthroat trout and Columbia redband trout.
DNRC published their final HCP in 2010 and it was approved by the state Land Board in December 2011. Unfortunately, DNRC’s plan focuses more on logging than conserving habitat for sensitive specie on Montana school trust lands. Several of DNRC’s management prescriptions and guidelines will jeopardize the survival of these iconic and imperiled species. Of most concern are the plan’s:
- Inadequate riparian buffers to protect bull trout habitat from disruption and erosion.
- Lack of monitoring requirements and adjustment in management strategies to mitigate the impacts of climate change on species and their habitat.
- Loopholes that allow gravel pits and logging within so-called “no harvest areas”.
- Elimination of core security areas for grizzly bears
You can read DNRC’s final habitat conservation plan and environmental impact statement here