Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland celebrates new conservation area in Montana
MARION - Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland visited Marion on Saturday to celebrate the Lost Trail Conservation Area, which becomes the newest unit of the National Wildlife Refuge system.
“Today we're not just celebrating the expansion of our National Wildlife Refuge System. We're celebrating new opportunities for children and families to connect with nature, hunt, fish hike and view the wildlife now and for generations to come," said Haaland.
The Lost Trail Conservation Area has become the first the unit of the National Wildlife Refuge system under her administration.
“The opening of Lost Trail Conservation Area, the latest unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System, is a great example of what my Great American Outdoors Act can do for public access to public lands,” Sen. Steve Daines said in a statement. “Now, generations of Montanans will be able to enjoy this beautiful landscape.”
Haaland praised the collaboration that resulted in the conservation area's creation.
“The work here is a shining example of collaborative conservation. When federal, state and tribal governments along with local residents and come together to conserve and protect our lands and waters," said Haaland.
Along with the Secretary of the Interior, members from The U.S. Fish and Wildlife (USFWS), Trust for Public Lands and The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) gathered to share their thoughts on the importance of this newly protected area.
“Together we've conserved a vital wildlife corridor. We're sustaining habitat for our flora and for our fauna, and we're preserving this area's way of life through sustainable land use and outdoor recreation. And we're doing that together," said USFWS Director Martha Williams.
The area connects Glacier National Park, The Cabinet Mountains Wilderness, the Selkirk Mountains and even reaches into the Coeur d'Alene Mountains in Idaho. This is the main migration corridor for elk, mule deer, grizzly bears, wolverine and Canadian lynx.
“The permanent protection of 38,000 acres of pristine forests and Montana wildlife within the Lost Trail Conservation Area is welcomed news for everyone who loves to get outside and for future generations," said Trust for Public Land Senior Vice President and General Council Malcolm Carson.
Historically, the land was used for cattle production but has been recuperated into a wetland wildlife haven.
“We all saw a value here and we all tried to support, whoever needed to hear it, that this was a place that could use the protection and conservation and the nomination of this as a conservation area. We are proud to be a part of this story of restoration and conservation of this specific site for a variety of species in perpetuity,” said Whisper Camel-Means, CSKT Wildlife Management Program Biologist.
The Missoula Current contributed to this story.