The Roundup -

Public Hearing On Navratil Channel Migration Easement


On Wed., January 27th, at 7 p.m., Mike Backes with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) and Tom Hinz with Montana Aquatic Resources Services Inc. (MARS), invited the public to comment on a proposal to fund the purchase of a perpetual channel migration easement (CME) on 89.5 acres in Richland County along the Yellowstone River near Sidney, MT. The CME is a conservation easement that includes land bordering a stream or river where the Landowner (The Navratil Family) agrees not to riprap or otherwise stabilize the riverbank, allowing the river’s natural erosive processes to continue. The easements include important habitats provided for fish and wildlife species, in part by prohibiting rip rapping and dumping along the riverbank within the easement area. Montana Land Reliance (MLR), the state’s largest land and trust, will hold in the easement in perpetuity.

Western Area Power Administration (WAPA),a member of the Upper Basin Pallid Sturgeon Governing Board, provided seed money to FWP in 2008 to do one or more sloughing easements. FWP later selected MARS to help develop the pilot sloughing, or CME, easement with the Navratils. WAPA also helps with other Pallid Sturgeon recovery projects, including research and management of the fish.

If the expenditure of FWP fund for the CME is approved, there would be 11 practices that would be prohibited throughout the easement. Some of these practices include bank stabilization, dumping, mineral extraction, placement of subdivisions, and camper and trailers, construction, roads, etc. The CME will have no negative effect on wildlife, land resources, water resources, and more. The purpose is to basically allow the river to migrate naturally by purchasing the right of the landowner to stabilize the river bank.

Public comments included complaints such as “It’s a waste of money,” and “If I can’t dump on my land, I won’t be able to irrigate my crops.” Several citizens at the hearing were neighbors of the Navratil family, and did not like the idea of spending money on something that would happen naturally and not being able to prevent the loss of their own land.

Mike Backes, who has been involved with the project since 2008, will be paying close attention to the public comments. “We were hoping to make the decision to make the purchase on January 29th after all comments have been received, but after tonight I see we will have to revise the CME to better suit the public’s needs.”


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