Increases in subdivision fees sought by the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) are on hold after the Environmental Quality Council objected to the proposal at its September meeting.

The move delays the increases for 6 months unless the council removes its objection or fails to take further action at a subsequent meeting. The DEQ says the proposal would cover actual costs for reviewing plats and subdivisions and conducting inspections and enforcement activities. The last major change to fees was in 2013.

The EQC asked for data on the subdivision review process and whether fee increases could be phased in. The council expects to discuss the proposal in January.

The council met in Libby over September 25-26, touring the chronic wasting disease (CWD) management zone established around the community where 11 white-tailed deer tested positive for the disease since May. Libby is the first wild population of ungulates to test positive for CWD west of the Continental Divide.

The Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP) is working with hunters to collect additional tissue samples to determine the prevalence of the disease in local deer, elk, and moose. FWP showed EQC the clover traps used to catch deer and demonstrated how to collect lymph nodes and brainstems for testing.

Left: FWP Region One Wildlife Program Manager Neil Anderson demonstrates setting a clover trap for legislators.
Right: Legislators view dissection of retropharyngeal lymph nodes from a deer for CWD testing.

The EQC also toured Libby's Riverfront Park, site of the reclaimed WR Grace export operations. The council is tracking the work of the DEQ and the Libby asbestos Superfund oversight committee (SB 315, 2017; HB 30, 2019).

Other topics discussed by the EQC in Libby include wolf, grizzly, and sage grouse management, the impacts of selenium on fish in Lake Koocanusa, the Pacific Northwest Trail, wilderness study areas, aquatic invasive species, good neighbor authority forestry contracts, and the fire season.

For more information on the council's activities, visit the council's website or contact Joe Kolman, council staff.

Council website:

Council staff: or 406-444-9280

The Legislative News.