State Parks mistake prompts legislative audit request

Fish, Wildlife & Parks is scrambling to resolve a land issue that could threaten federal funding, but its efforts could now be delayed by a legislative audit.

FWP may need to come up with about $7 million, either in cash or property value, to trade for part of West Shore State Park, FWP Chief of Staff Paul Sihler told the legislative Environmental Quality Council on Wednesday. If that’s not possible, the department could lose as much as $27 million in federal Pittman-Robertson money, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

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Ruby River case upholds recreational stream access

Montana’s stream access laws have become a sparring point in this year’s gubernatorial race, so it’s fitting that one of the larger lawsuits in recent history appears to be settled, with Montana on the winning side.

Two weeks ago, a Madison county judge supported the cause of stream-access proponents when he ruled that the public was allowed to use a strip of land to either side of a road and bridge across the Ruby River. That was the final piece of a much larger case that the Public Land/Water Access Association filed a dozen years ago against media billionaire James Cox Kennedy after he tried to deny public access to the Ruby River, in this case via the Seylor Lane Bridge.

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FWP, Livestock board may discuss anti-predator devices

A petition asking for a limit on use of anti-predator poisonous devices has been denied, but it’s still got livestock groups on the alert.

At the end of a brief Fish, Wildlife & Parks commission meeting Thursday, Zach Strong of the Natural Resources Defense Council expressed frustration over the commission’s rejection in May of an NRDC petition to limit trap threats to grizzly bears and other wildlife.

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