Phillips County easement, shoulder seasons on Fish and Wildlife Commission agenda

Phillips County easement, shoulder seasons on Fish and Wildlife Commission agenda

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Prairie land

A pronghorn looks back from a hilltop in Phillips County.

The Montana Fish & Wildlife Commission will meet on Monday, Jan. 6, to discuss a proposed easement in Phillips County that would provide access to more than 23,700 acres of public land and to talk about elk shoulder seasons.

The commission will also consider a bull trout harvest closure on Lake Koocanusa and a petition to allow hovercraft on the Bitterroot and Clark Fork rivers, along with the Helena urban deer plan quota ranges.

The White Rock Coulee project would improve public access to approximately 19,913 acres of BLM and 3,828 acres of DNRC lands. Currently there's only one main access point on the northern section and little public access to the remainder of the complex.

A private landowner adjacent to the western boundary of the White Rock Coulee complex has expressed interest in reaching an agreement for a two-mile road right of way easement through their private property leading to the boundary of this large tract of public land. This project would secure year-round public access to the center of the  area where there has been limited public access.

The area currently sees between 100 and 200 hunter days for mule deer, pronghorn, and upland game bird hunting. As antelope numbers increase, those hunter day figures are expected to increase. This project would also provide year-round access for other outdoor recreation opportunities such as viewing sage grouse on leks, hiking, and birding for short grass prairie birds.

Funding for the easement would come from the Home to Hunt License account which is earmarked for acquiring public hunting access to inaccessible public lands.

The meeting will begin at 9 a.m. at Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks headquarters in Helena and live streamed to all regional offices around the state. The public can participate in the official meeting at any of these locations. The work session is open to the public, but no comment will be taken.

FWP ensures its meetings are fully accessible to those with special needs. To request arrangements, call FWP at 406-444-3186.

For the full agenda and background on the scheduled topics, go to the FWP website at fwp.mt.gov; under “Quick Links” click “Commission.”

FWP's website offers live streamed audio of each Fish & Wildlife Commission meeting. FWP Headquarters is located at 1420 E. 6th Avenue, Helena.

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