KALISPELL — The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is moving forward with a proposal to preserve up to 100,000 acres of forest land located 28 miles west of Kalispell.
USFWS officials say the Lost Trail Conservation Area will preserve public access and protect wildlife habitat while providing sustainable timber harvest.
Western Montana Refuges Project leader Ben Gilles says the USFWS will purchase easements from private timber sellers keeping the land undeveloped.
Gilles says no taxpayer dollars would be used to purchase the easements as the service will use federal dollars through the Land and Water Conservation Fund to make purchases.
He says the plan is to make the first easement purchase by the end of the year and to continue purchasing easements for years to come within the 100,000-acre project boundary.
“It’s going to allow for continued timber harvest up in that area and for us, conservation, so it keeps the landscape in tack, non-development, so it was really a win we felt like all around,” Gilles said.
Gilles says the easements purchased will provide public access for hunting, fishing, hiking and wildlife viewing.