FWP to Acquire Cottonwood Island
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) is in the process of purchasing two islands in the Yellowstone River east of Reed Point for a fishing access site and to fulfill a need for woody debris and wildlife habitat. The acquisition will replace habitat that was removed during the cleanup on July 1, 2011 of the ExxonMobil Pipeline Company oil spill at Laurel.
The purchase must be approved by the commission in April and the entire transaction will be completed by mid-summer, according to Robert Gibson, FWP Program Manager.
The 45 acres of islands are currently owned by the Montana Department of Transportation, which acquired them when it bought a ranch as part of a plan to abandon an old bridge across the Yellowstone River. FWP has agreed to buy the islands with $54,050 from the Department of Justice Natural Resource Damage Program (NRDP).
NRDP was funded through a settlement with Exxon Mobil Pipeline Company following the rupture the Exxon Mobil Pipeline petroleum pipeline in 2011. During cleanup of the spill, crews altered riverside wildlife habitat and removed large woody debris – primarily downed cottonwood trees. Such debris is responsible for creating and maintaining islands and other natural structures that form a healthy, meandering river.
The islands being acquired will remain undeveloped to leave habitat intact..