Lindeen Voices Concerns of Free, Public Access

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Weyerhaeuser buying Plum Creek, uses paid access to its lands in other states

HELENA – Montana State Auditor and Land Board Member Monica J. Lindeen today raised concerns about whether Weyerhaeuser will continue Plum Creek’s policy of free and open public access on its lands.

Montana welcomes Weyerhaeuser to our state and we hope they will keep Plum Creek’s 750 Montana employees and continue to provide free and open access to their lands,” Lindeen said.

Plum Creek has allowed free, public access on nearly all of its 880,000 acres of timbered Montana lands for decades. Weyerhaeuser, in contrast, allows only paid access to its land through permits and exclusive leases. Permits are often limited in number and can cost as much as $275. Leases go to the highest bidder and provide exclusive use of the land.

Private hunting leases are unusual in Montana for private landowners and may exclude those who can’t afford to pay,” Lindeen said.

I appreciate that many of Weyerhaeuser’s lands are in states with denser populations, less public land and more pressure on the few parcels of game habitat that exist. I can appreciate that an orderly system of hunting leases may make sense in other states,” Lindeen said. “I am hopeful that Weyerhaeuser will agree with me that this type of system isn’t necessary in Montana.”

Lindeen has also requested that the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks do additional research on the specifics of Weyerhaeuser’s access policies and provide the information to the Land Board at its next meeting.

Plum Creek has committed more than 613,000 acres of its Montana land to conservation through a combination of land sales, easements and land exchanges. This includes the 310,000-acre Montana Legacy Project — one of the largest private conservation land sales in our nation’s history.