EQC debates federal roads, agency enforcement reports - news.mt.gov

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EQC debates federal roads, agency enforcement reports

Wednesday, February 24, 2016/Categories: Legislative Branch/Tags: Environmental Quality Council

The Legislative Environmental Quality Council (EQC) meets March 9-10 to begin discussing recommendations related to its study of federal roads, inaccessible public lands, and big game.

As part of its study of federal land and road management, the bipartisan EQC will review the first draft of a committee report and begin formulating findings and recommendations, if any. The 2015 Legislature passed House Joint Resolution No. 13, sponsored by Rep. Kerry White (R-Bozeman). It tasks the EQC with assessing road closures on federal lands over the last 35 years, identifying landlocked parcels of public land, and evaluating deer and elk harvest trends in relation to limited access to federal lands.

The meeting begins at 10 a.m. March 9 in room 317 of the Capitol. A full agenda and meeting materials are available on the Council’s website at http://leg.mt.gov/eqc.

The Departments of Environmental Quality, Natural Resources and Conservation, and Agriculture will present  environmental compliance and enforcement reports. The law requires the agencies to summarize activities to promote compliance, describe the regulated community for specific programs and estimate what percentage is in compliance, and detail noncompliant actions.

The sage grouse conservation program manager will provide an update on work to implement the Montana sage grouse conservation strategy. The strategy includes stipulations for new development in sage grouse habitat and a competitive grant program for conservation measures.

As part of its duty to oversee the work of the Departments of Environmental Quality, Natural Resources and Conservation, and Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, the EQC is evaluating specific programs within each agency. Programs on the March agenda include habitat management within the DFWP's Wildlife Division and forest management in the DNRC Trust Lands Division. Comments are encouraged from anyone with an interest in the programs.

The council is also tracking legislation in the states of Washington and Oregon that would impact their continued use of coal-fired generation from the Colstrip Generating Station. The council sent Senators Jim Keane (D-Butte) and Rick Ripley (R-Wolf Creek) to Olympia to attend a hearing on Senate Bill No. 6248 on January 20.

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. 

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