On Saturday, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland visited the Lost Trail National Wildlife Refuge in Marion, west of Kalispell. The Lost Trail Conservation Area is the newest unit of the National Wildlife Refuge system.
The area connects Glacier National Park, the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness, the Selkirk Mountains, and even reaches into the Coeur d'Alene Mountains in Idaho. This is a main migration corridor for elk, mule deer, grizzly bears, wolverine and Canada lynx.
“Today we're not just celebrating the expansion of our National Wildlife Refuge System. We're celebrating new opportunities for children and families to connect with nature, hunt, fish hike and view the wildlife now and for generations to come," said Haaland.
She added, “The work here is a shining example of collaborative conservation. When federal, state and tribal governments along with local residents and come together to conserve and protect our lands and waters."
Along with the Secretary of the Interior, members of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Trust for Public Lands, and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes gathered to share their thoughts on the importance of this newly-protected area.
“Together we've conserved a vital wildlife corridor. We're sustaining habitat for our flora and for our fauna, and we're preserving this area's way of life through sustainable land use and outdoor recreation. And we're doing that together," said Martha Williams, director of the USFWS.
“The permanent protection of 38,000 acres of pristine forests and Montana wildlife within the Lost Trail Conservation Area is welcomed news for everyone who loves to get outside and for future generations," said Malcolm Carson of the Trust for Public Land.
Historically, the land was used for cattle production but has been transitioned into a wetland wildlife haven.
“We all saw a value here and we all tried to support, whoever needed to hear it, that this was a place that could use the protection and conservation and the nomination of this as a conservation area. We are proud to be a part of this story of restoration and conservation of this specific site for a variety of species in perpetuity,” said Whisper Camel-Means, a biologist with the CSKT Wildlife Management Program.
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