Phase II EIS for Plum
Creek land exchange
Available Next Week

 

Game Range Ramblin's



Game Range Articles
by Mike Thompson,
FW&P wildlife biologist,
writing for the Pathfinder

 


February 8, 2001
Seeley Swan Pathfinder
Seeley Lake, Montana

 

by Mike Thompson

You know, you get a little ringy after working on an EIS for what seems like forty days and forty nights.

Some people start talking to themselves at night when the dog doesn't want to come along back to the office after supper. Others hear voices.

As for me? Well, lately, Alan Jackson's been singing inside my head.

At dubya, dubya, dubya dot DNRC,

I'll be waiting for you pa-tient-ly,

If you need to read just click on me,

At dubya, dubya, dubya dot DNRC.

"That's right friends," Alan continues, with some light piano and guitar accompaniment in the background. "You know, we've all been looking forward to Phase II of the 50th Anniversary Project. Why, that's the project that would bring our state forestry and wildlife agencies together on the Blackfoot-Clearwater Game Range."

At dubya, dubya, dubya dot DNRC . . .

"Well, now all that effort you folks put into kicking off this project with the 50th Anniversary Celebration on that glorious June day back in 1999, and with the Phase I purchase of that first 856 acres from Plum Creek just one year later . . ."

"Well, now it's about to pay off again with the release of the draft environmental impact statement for Phase IIthe proposed exchange of certain DNRC lands outside the Game Range for about 3,040 acres of Plum Creek inholdings within the Game Range."

(I couldn't help noticing that Alan's ivory ticklers and guitar pickers had a little trouble keeping up with that last mouthful. I guess you know what they say about good help. For Alan's part, though, he recovered pretty well.)

"So, come Monday, why don't you just sit down at your computer. Come on and turn that ornery cuss on. And, you just type in www.dnrc.state.mt.us/eis_ea.html. Cause that's where you'll find all you need to know about Phase II, and about all the things we're trying to do for you. Just remember, I'm at . . . '

Dubya, dubya dubya dot DNRC.

He always seems to fade out about then, mumbling something about memories.

Well, I guess the work's left up to those of us who are here in the flesh, even though our minds may be addled and drifting. I don't even want to think about who's gonna replace Alan Jackson on my shoulder if I don't get a life pretty soon!

So, there are a bunch of us at Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks and the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation who have really worked hard and long to bring you the best possible Phase II proposal and most thorough and objective evaluation of that proposal. And, although it would be more polished if we could work longer, we think it's past time to go home now. So, we need your help.

We're asking, if you are interested, to go ahead and click on DNRC's Internet website next Monday, February 12 (or anytime afterward until March 15), and see what you think.

We're also asking you to excuse the incredibly annoying length of the EIS. I think all of us truly hoped we could produce a more manageable document for you, but it was first and foremost important that we cover all the bases on such a large and important project. But, you know what? There's no law saying you have to read it all! If you're just looking for the bottom line, you'll want to read the Executive Summary, and you'll probably want to review the maps. After that, I'd suggest Chapters 1 and 2 to understand the purpose of the project, the decision making process, and the alternative actions we're considering.

The goal is to bring 3,040 acres of Plum Creek inholdings within the heart of the Game Range into state ownership. The question is, at what cost? That's what the EIS is forto analyze the possible costs and present the tradeoffs to you and decision makers.

We think we've proposed a win-win-win-win solution for FWP, DNRC, Plum Creek, and the public. But, now it's up to you to add your thoughts and information.

Please do!

And, if you don't care for Alan Jackson or the Internet, you can call me at 406-542-5500 to reserve a hardcopy of the draft EIS. Or, you might prefer to simply receive the executive summary. Make sure and specify which or both when you call.

Maybe I'll see some of you at one of the public hearings on Phase II, which are scheduled for 7:00 P.M. on February 20 at the Ovando Church, and 7:00 P.M. on February 21 at the Seeley Lake Elementary School.

Just remember, "Dubya, dubya, dubya dot DNRC."

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