COLUMBIA FALLS, MT -- December 16, 1999 -- Plum Creek Timber Company, Inc. (NYSE:PCL) today announced that it had completed a draft Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) for the protection of habitat for native fish species on 1.7 million acres of Plum Creek timberlands in Washington, Idaho, and Montana. The plan, which requires the approval of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service, will be the first of its type in the Inter-mountain West.
"The draft plan is based on the best available scientific information and technical data on native fish and forest management activities," said Mike Jostrom, Plum Creek's Native Fish Project Manager. "Plum Creek has been researching the needs of bull trout and other native fish since 1993. With the help of state and federal agencies as well as outside scientists and experts, we have prepared a solid scientific foundation for the native fish HCP, and we are committed to continuing our research to ensure the success of the plan."
The proposed plan is comprehensive in nature and places conditions on a broad spectrum of Plum Creek's forest management activities, including timber harvest, road building, grazing leases, and land sales. All of these conditions are designed to reduce the impact of Plum Creek's management activities on native fish habitat as well as enhance additional habitat. An adaptive management component of the plan provides for research and monitoring to determine if the plan is meeting its biological goals. It also commits Plum Creek and the Services to make revisions to the plan, if necessary, based on new information or changing environmental conditions. In exchange for these commitments, Plum Creek will receive greater regulatory certainty for its long term operations in the plan area.
Said Plum Creek's Jostrom, "The native fish HCP is not only a conservation plan for fish habitat, it is also a long-term business plan for the company, under which we will receive the regulatory predictability necessary to allow us to make sound long-term business decisions." Upon approval of the HCP, the Services will issue Plum Creek an incidental take permit for 17 native fish species including bull trout, steelhead, Westslope cutthroat trout, and various salmon species.
The development of Plum Creek's plan was initially announced in December of 1997. Since then, over 150 meetings with interested groups and individuals have been held to help develop the plan, including public "scoping" meetings to determine the issues that the Services needed to address in the Environmental Impact Statement for the HCP. The draft EIS was released for public comment concurrently with today's release of the HCP.
The proposed HCP and the associated draft EIS are available to the public for comment through February 17, 2000. They are available on the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service's website (www.fws.gov/r1srbo/SRBO/PlumCk.htm) or at several public libraries in the Northwest. Public meetings will be held in January in several locations to obtain comments from interested parties. Information, including summaries of Plum Creek's technical reports, is also available on Plum Creek's website (www.plumcreek.com).
Plum Creek is a forest products company with timberland and mills in the northwest, northeast, and southeast United States.