HELENA – State officials are citing urban growth as a reason for swapping a piece of land near Pablo for another near Ronan next to the Ninepipe Wildlife Management Area.
The Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission unanimously moved Thursday to exchange 223 acres in the Pablo Wildlife Management Area for 240 privately owned acres neighboring the Ninepipe.
Both state-owned areas are between Polson and St. Ignatius, and are valued at about $600,000.
Development around Polson has slowly encroached around the Pablo acreage, including a nearby drag racing and stock racing track. The state says that has significantly affected “wildlife values and recreational uses” of the land.
The new land is a few miles down Highway 93.It is currently leased for cattle grazing, and state managers worried it would eventually be sold into private development.
Most comments from the public were supportive of the deal. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service added its endorsement. The federal agency said the Pablo acres “no longer serve the intended purpose for which they were acquired due to changes in recreational, residential and commercial development of the surrounding area.”
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