FWP plans public tour, more study of Ovando logging

The public will have new opportunities to tour and comment on a proposal to log, thin and burn about 1,500 acres of a wildlife management area northeast of Ovando in coming weeks. 

The Doney Lake Forest Habitat Improvement Project sits just outside designated wilderness and critical habitat for grizzly bears. It’s also within a prime elk and deer hunting district. The project, which Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks analysists say will improve wildlife habitat and wildfire resilience, was originally slated to begin this summer. FWP proposed the project, and will conduct further analysis of the project’s impacts this year. 

The proposal drew scrutiny from some conservationists when FWP released a draft environmental assessment (EA) for the project with a comment period beginning Jan. 4. In mid-January, FWP doubled its initial 15-day comment period on the draft in response to public comments. FWP received 43 comments during that window, the agency stated Aug. 21. Many commenters sought to better understand the project’s benefits or wanted further agency analysis of impacts. And critics of the project at the time expressed concern it would degrade grizzly habitat.

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In response, the agency announced Aug.

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