Conservation easement sought near Libby

The Stimson Lumber Company owns forestland across the Pacific Northwest, but it sees challenges in Northwest Montana’s growing population.

Barry Dexter, the firm’s director of resources, says that developing areas’ lands “come out of timber production and go into mini-ranches or home sites for folks, and so that’s a little challenging for a fire management perspective, and it reduces the amount of land for the timber base.”

About 22,275 acres of the company’s land near Libby could avoid that outcome. If Stimson, conservation groups, state officials and Montana’s congressional delegation have their way, a conservation easement will allow forestry there to continue while preventing development.

Dan Vermillion, chair of Montana’s Fish and Wildlife Commission, had a hand in crafting the proposal.