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The Bureau of Land Management is taking public comment on an environmental assessment for the Iron Mask Planning Area in the Elkhorn Mountains.

The environmental assessment will study issues such as travel management, grazing and vegetation. In addition to public comment, which runs until July 22, the BLM will host an open house to discuss the Iron Mask Planning Area assessment and to answer questions. The open house is scheduled for June 25 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the U.S. Forest Service Townsend Ranger District office.

Land within the Iron Mask Planning Area includes a National Guard firing range known as Limestone Hills Training Area, the Elkhorns Cooperative Management Area, which is cooperatively managed by the Forest Service, BLM and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and other private, local government and Bureau of Reclamation lands.

In 2007, the BLM acquired more than 5,500 acres on the east side of the Elkhorns from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. A stipulation of the acquisition included managing the property for wildlife habitat and recreation.

“We are especially interested in hearing from our partner and the public if they feel the management action proposed in the environmental assessment meets those objectives,” said Butte BLM field manager Scott Haight.

Potential decisions in the environmental assessment include management of travel routes, range improvements and grazing for the Indian Creek Forage Reserve, whether to renew grazing allotments, soil erosion and water quality, and rebuilding or removing fencing.

A copy of the environmental assessment is available on the Butte Field Office website at http://blm.gov/cyld.

Comments may be mailed to the Butte Field Office at 106 N. Parkmont, Butte, MT 59701 or emailed to sfrankli@blm.gov.

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