CBU Questions Appraised Value of Milk River Ranch

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The following is a press release from Citizens for Balanced Use:

 

The State Land Board approved the purchase of 1513.5 acres of crop land by DNRC and 2992 acres of Milk River bottom by FWP at their November 19, 2012 meeting in Helena. The FWP purchase is contengent on approval by the FWP Commission during their December 10, 2012 meeting. The DNRC purchase price is $1,069,226 and the FWP purchase price is $4,708,500. State law requires an additional 20{8a1275384cb93b18aa3d41af404144e37302a793dec468d70d54c97b65cfac05} of any FWP purchase price to be set aside for future maintenance. This brings the total amount spent on the FWP land purchase at $5,650,200.

 

Several residents from the area traveled hundreds of miles to testify in opposition to this proposal at the Land Board meeting in Helena only to be given 2 minutes to speak. CBU finds this action by the Land Board Chairman to be disrespectful of those folks with valid concerns and questions.

 

Several questions arise as this land acquisition was ranked as 15 on the list until recently when it was elevated to number 1. Even members of the FWP Commission have raised questions as to why the rush to approve this proposal. In past actions it has been common practice for the FWP Commission to act on a proposal prior to the State Land Board but in this case the Land Board has reviewed this proposal first and the FWP portion of the Land Board approval is dependent on approval by the FWP Commission. Again, what is the rush and who has elevated this proposal to the top of the list?  

 

CBU provided written comments on this proposal which included the following issues: 

  • The proposal was reviewed through an Environmental Assessment (EA) rather than an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). An EA stated no significant impact in several areas which CBU disagrees as to these impacts. We believe there are significant impacts which should require an EIS. We believe the agencies used an EA to avoid analysis of these significant impacts.
  • The appraisal on the FWP portion of the land purchase seems to be significantly higher than other sales in the area. An appraised value of $1573.69 per acre for a very poor fishing opportunity and very limited access would seem to CBU as very high. 
  • Because of the rush to approve this purchase the public had limited opportunity to review this project and comment. One public meeting was held in Havre where the public had many more questions than answers being provided. We believe these questions are valid and need to have answers.
  • Did the FWP and DNRC cordinate this proposal with the Hill County Commissioners. This purchase will affect Hill County in several ways and the Commissioners should have been involved.
  • One of the reasons for this purchase is to protect the cultural and historic artifacts located on this property but the purchase of this property does not include these artifacts. All ownership of artifacts are reserved back to the property owners. This seems odd to purchase property to protect something and then not include the proposed items in the purchase.  

The last opportunity for the public to comment on this proposal will be during the December 10th meeting of the FWP Commission. This meeting is being done by telephone conference and little information is available as to the acceptance of public comment during this meeting. There will be an opportunity for the public to listen in on this FWP conference call meeting in a few places around Montana. 

 

One such place is in Havre at the Great Northern Inn at 9 AM. We encourage anyone interested in this land purchase to attend this December 10th meeting in Havre. 

 

Two other opportunities for the public to attend this conference call meeting of the FWP Commission will be at FWP Region 1 in Kalispell and at FWP Region 4 in Great Falls.  

 

So the 6,719,426 dollar question is simply this. Is this a good use of public funds spent on a piece of land with little to no access, a very poor fishery in the muddy Milk, a benefit to one land owner at an expensive price?

 

 

Below is the list of FWP Commission members and their contact information:

 

E-mail Commissioners: fwpcomm@mt.gov

 

District 1 

Bob Ream, Chairman

521 Clarke Street 

Helena, MT 59601 

(406) 461-3202  

 

District 2 

Dan Vermillion, Vice-Chairman 

PO Box 668 

Livingston, MT 59047 

(406) 222-0624 

 

District 3 

Ron Moody, Commissioner 

109 Bach Avenue 

Lewistown, MT 59457 

(406) 538-2698  

 

District 4 

A.T. Stafne, Commissioner 

8079 US Highway 2

Wolf Point, MT 59201 

(406) 653-2881  

 

District 5 

Shane Colton, Commissioner

335 Clark 

Billings, MT 59101 

(406) 259-9986  

 

 

Contact the FWP Commission with your comments and concerns prior to the scheduled meeting being held December 10th, 2012  9 AM. 

 

 

 

Source:  Citizens for Balanced Use

Posted by Haylie Shipp 

 

 


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