Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Land conservation board down a member

LAB seeks county resident passionate about conservation


By KATHERINE WUTZ
Express Staff Writer

The Blaine County Land, Water and Wildlife Levy Advisory Board is short one member, and the nine-member committee is looking for someone to step in.

The board is charged with reviewing and recommending conservation projects to the Board of County Commissioners for county funding.

In 2008, Blaine County voters passed a $3.4 million two-year levy to help protect clean water, wildlife habitat and working farms and ranches in Blaine County.

Money is granted from the levy funds based on applications from landowners in partnership with nonprofit conservation organizations such as the Wood River Land Trust and The Nature Conservancy.

The conservation organizations contribute half the cost of conservation easements on approved projects, while levy funds make up the rest. Applications for these grants are sent to the board, which makes recommendations to the Blaine County commissioners, which approves the projects and disburses the funds.

According to a press release from project coordinator Clare Swanger, the Levy Advisory Board meets the first and third Thursdays of every month, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The position is open to all Blaine County residents.

“Serving on the LAB provides unprecedented opportunity to help conserve special places in our county that contribute so much to our quality of life,” Swanger said.

The program focuses on preserving land and water quality in the Big and Little Wood River valleys, wildlife habitat and working farms and ranches.

So far, the board has chosen two projects for funding. The first was a project on the Flat Top Ranch near Carey, which placed a conservation easement on 1,114 acres of the ranch, limiting development and preserving a large portion of an antelope migration corridor.

The second was a 732-acre conservation easement on the Bar B Ranch near Carey. The easement protects sage grouse, pygmy rabbit and antelope habitat.

Applications are available at www.processblaince.wix.com/blainelwwp. Completed applications are due to Swanger by Friday, Nov. 16.


Kate Wutz: kwutz@mtexpress.com




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