Environmental Quality Council to Meet Sept. 14-15 - news.mt.gov

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Environmental Quality Council to Meet Sept. 14-15

Thursday, September 1, 2016/Categories: Legislative Branch/Tags: Environmental Quality Council

The Environmental Quality Council will hear 2017 legislative proposals from three natural resource agencies as well as updates on bison management, the closure of the Yellowstone River to recreation, and groundwater cleanup at Colstrip.

The council meets Sept. 14-15 in room 317 of the capitol.

The Department of Natural Resources and Conservation is proposing four bills for the 2017 session:

  • Increasing to 2 million board feet the amount of timber the DNRC can harvest on state land with limited access when permission is granted by an adjacent landowner and there is only one potential buyer with legal access;
  • Cleaning up moot conservation district statutes;
  • Clarifying conservation district supervisor terms and when oath of office must be signed;
  • Modifying commercial leasing rental provisions to clarify valuation processes and allow for extended option to lease periods.

The Department of Environmental Quality is proposing changes to the Major Facility Siting Act as it relates to evaluating pipelines and electric transmission lines. The changes contemplate additional consultation with the applicant and public notice.

The Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks is proposing nine pieces of legislation:

  • Modify the classification of spotted skunks (civet cats);
  • Revise the waiting period for certain bighorn sheep licenses;
  • Broaden the use of the wolf license revenue;
  • Allow the use of digital carcass tags;
  • Extend the sunset date for the paddlefish caviar program;
  • Eliminate language that limits coldwater fish propagation at the Fort Peck Hatchery;
  • Tighten the statute governing fish transport and transplantation;
  • Cross-reference statutes for penalties applicable to illegal use of artificial light;
  • Allocate wild buffalo licenses to tribes for traditional purposes.

The FWP will update the council on plans for bison management and brucellosis. The agency also will provide an update on status of the Yellowstone River, which was closed to recreation in August because thousands were killed by a parasite.

The DEQ will discuss the continued cleanup of groundwater contamination at the Colstrip power plants as it relates to a recent lawsuit settlement between plant owners and environmental groups.

The council will take final action on its House Joint Resolution 13 study of federal roads, parcels of public land with no public access, and harvest rates for elk and deer. The council assembled an immense amount of information previously unavailable in one place as part of the study. The council examined information on federal roads, parcels of public land with no public access, and harvest rates for elk and deer. The council heard from a variety of experts as well as numerous members of the public. The council also toured Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) roads and lands around Helena to see road and access issues firsthand.

For more information on committee activities and the next meeting visit the council's website or contact Joe Kolman, committee staff at 444-3747 or jkolman@mt.gov.

Representatives assigned to the EQC are Jerry Bennett, R-Libby (Vice Chair); Willis Curdy-D-Missoula; Janet Ellis, D-Helena; Ed Lieser, D-Whitefish; and White.  Senate members are John Brenden, R-Scobey (Chair); Jim Keane, D-Butte; Mike Phillips, D-Bozeman; Rick Ripley, R-Wolf Creek; Carey Smith, R-Billings; and Gene Vuckovich, D-Anaconda.   The EQC has four public members including Scott Aspenlieder, Billings; Brooke Erb, Dillon; Bert Lindler, Missoula; and Roy Morris, Butte.  Tim Baker, a representative of the governor, is a non-voting member.

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