After what has been more than a two-year process, landowners will be able to start applying for Land, Water and Wildlife Levy funding for conservation projects as early as the middle of November.
"We're almost open for business," said Mary Austin Crofts, spokeswoman for the Land, Water and Wildlife Levy advisory board.
The Land, Water and Wildlife Levy was a two-year assessment on county property taxes to raise money to protect wildlife habitat and open spaces in Blaine County. No specific projects were proposed when the $3.25 million levy was approved by voters in November 2008, but now Crofts said the board is almost ready to start evaluating proposals.
Landowners who want a project funded by the levy on their lands must partner with a nonprofit organization or Blaine County, which will submit the pre-application to county Land Use and Building Services.
Part of the reason is because land considered for improvement must be protected from development by a conservation easement, transfer of development rights or other agreement. Crofts said this requirement is to protect the public's investment.
"We don't want to be investing the public's money in something that will go away in 10 or 20 years," Crofts said. "We want to protect it forever."
The proposals must go through a pre-application process that introduces the project to the program. If a pre-application is approved, then a formal application can be filled out to allow the project to compete for funding with other similar proposals.
Crofts said the proposals will be evaluated based on a checklist developed through public meetings and workshops to determine the community's conservation goals. She said she hopes the first round of levy funds will be allocated in April.
All application documents are available on the levy advisory board's website, http://blainecountylab.wordpress.com.
Katherine Wutz: email@example.com