Comments are being sought on a draft environmental assessment for the purchase of permanent easements at Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park in Jefferson County and Thompson Falls State Park in Sanders County.
Montana State Parks and the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation jointly propose the purchase of permanent easements by the Parks Division of school trust lands that are owned and managed by DNRC and leased and managed by Montana State Parks. The easements are for 29.1 acres at Thompson Falls State Park and 640 acres of land integral to Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park.
Both sites are managed under annual lease agreements with DNRC as part of Montana’s state park system.
Permanent easements would result in Montana State Parks continuing to manage these sites as units of the state park system, while DNRC would retain ownership of the underlying property. Montana State Parks would pay full market value of the property and hold easements over all surface rights. DNRC would retain the mineral rights.
The 2014 annual easement lease rate is $12,663.77 for Thompson Falls State Park and $4,773.60 for Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park.
The current appraised value of the DNRC lands is $275,000 at Thompson Falls State Park and $640,000 at Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park. The Thompson Falls State Park easement would be funded in part by AVISTA Utilities as part of Clark Fork (hydropower) Settlement. Existing Montana State Park’s funding sources would also be utilized for these purchases.
The public is invited to comment. Public comments should be submitted by May 7 at 5 p.m. The public can comment by email to: permanentEasement@mt.gov or online at http://stateparks.mt.gov/news/publicNotices/environmental-assessments/pn_0019.html or visit: stateparks.mt.gov click on “submit public comments” or by mail to Thompson Falls/ Lewis and Clark Caverns Comments c/o FWP Region 1, 490 N. Meridian Road, Kalispell, MT 59901.