- What is the Montana Legacy Project? It is an effort between the Trust for Public Land and The Nature Conservancy to purchase about 315,500 acres of forest land currently owned by Plum Creek Timber Company in northwest Montana.
- What are the goals of the project? The goals are to preserve public access for hunting, snowmobiling, fishing and hiking; keep up sustainable harvesting operations in the forests and keep timber in our mills; and to preserve vital wildlife habitat and water resources.
- What is the nature of the agreement? The purchase will be completed in three phases for a combined total price of $510 million. Lands included in this purchase are within the Swan Valley, the upper Clearwater Valley near Seeley Lake, the Lolo Valley, the Mill Creek area near Missoula, Fish Creek, Petty Creek, Rock Creek, between Libby and the Yaak Valley and in the Garnet Mountains between Potomac and Interstate 90.
- Why are these lands so special? Because they contain some of the best water, wildlife and working forests in our country. They are part of what is known as the Crown of the Continent, one of the largest, most intact ecosystems remaining in the continental United States.
- Where is the funding coming from? Thanks to Senator Max Baucus' leadership, Congress has created a new public financing mechanism called the Qualified Forest Conservation Bonds. The pilot project for this new program is the Montana Legacy Project and is eligible to receive up to $250 million in federal dollars to help acquire lands that would be transferred into the ownership of the USFS. It is also dependent on private and state contributions.
- Who will ultimately own the land? It will be a mixture of state, federal and private ownership.
- What will happen to public access? The goal of the project is to provide the maximum amount of public access on both public and private lands that Montanans have enjoyed under Plum Creek ownership. Lands going into private ownership will have Conservation Easement placed on them that allow public access.
Information courtesy of http://www.themontanalegacyproject.org/