Two large conservation easements have been proposed in western Montana on Southern Pine Plantations timberlands that were formerly owned by Weyehaeuser and Plum Creek Timber. The proposed easements stem from concerns that the sale of the timberlands will take away long-standing access to the public that the prior owners allowed.
The first project is called "The Montana Great Outdoors Project," and would involve the Trust for Public Lands working with Southern Pine Plantations to acquire a conservation easement on approximately 130,000 acres. Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks would hold this easement. Southern Pine Plantations would maintain private land ownership and would continue to be able to use the property for commercial timber management. The land would be permanently open to public access for fishing, hunting, biking and other recreational uses.
The second easement is called "The Lost Trail Conservation Area." This potential project involves an adjacent 100,000 acres of private land, including approximately 70,000 acres owned by Southern Pine Plantations, that would be targeted for conservation easement with willing landowners. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would hold these easements.