by Arlene Montgomery, Friends of the Wild Swan
Plum Creek Timber Company announced that it has plans to sell 20,000 acres in the Swan Valley. While it has indicated that it would sell 10,000 acres in grizzly bear linkage zones to the federal government it has yet to disclose exactly where those lands are located. The Forest Service has not been assertive in identifying Plum Creek lands that should be conveyed to public ownership because they are important to native fish, wildlife and water quality. Plum Creek’s land sales for residential development will have a huge impact on the qualities that we hold dear in the Swan Valley.
It is vitally important that the Forest Service and our Congressional delegation hear from citizens now. Write to Regional Forester Brad Powell and Flathead National Forest Supervisor Cathy Barboletos. Tell them that they need to make the purchase of Plum Creek sections in the Swan Valley a top priority.
Land along bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout spawning streams, low elevation and linkage zone grizzly bear habitat, lynx denning habitat and travel corridors, and roadless lands in Section 29 (Windfall Creek) and Section 15 (Cedar Creek) all need to be priorities for public acquisition. Plum Creek was granted access into Section 29 in Windfall Creek late last year. There is imminent threat of road construction and logging that would increase sediment by 1000% eliminating westslope cutthroat trout, harming bull trout and degrading water quality. This section is also important core roadless security habitat for grizzly bear and lynx adjacent to the Mission Mountain Wilderness. The Windfall Creek section needs to be on the highest priority list for acquisition this year. The Cedar Creek roadless section has a Plum Creek access request pending and should also be a priority for purchase.
It is extremely important to write letters to your Congressional delegation (especially Montana Senators Burns and Baucus). Thank them for the work they have done in Congress to allocate monies for previous land purchases in the Swan Valley near Lindburgh Lake. Tell them that to protect the integrity of the Swan Valley, its wildlife, native fish, water quality and recreational opportunities more Plum Creek lands need to be conveyed to public ownership. Allocating sufficient Land and Water Conservation Fund monies to purchase these lands benefits people, wildlife and the economy.
Your voice needs to be heard or the Swan Valley may be lost to sprawl and wanton development. Please write a letter, today.