State Addresses Audit with Changes

By Beacon Staff

BILLINGS — Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks Department is making some changes in a program that pays landowners to allow hunting access to their land.

Alan Charles, who manages the program, says the changes seek to address concerns raised in a 2013 result of the program. The audit noted that some private landowners received payments even though the agency had already purchased conservation easements that guarantee hunter access to their land.

Since the release of the audit, the state agency has repeatedly defended its Block Management payments to easement owners. It notes that landowners sometimes provide access to more land than is included in the easement and that the payments help landowners deal with hunter impacts.

The Billings Gazette reports that changes include clarifying certain rules on enrollment and compensation.