Monday, June 24, 2024

More wilderness, not less

| February 8, 2024 12:00 AM

Senator Daines’ Montana Sportsmen Conservation Act permanently withdraws three Montana Wilderness Study Areas from wilderness consideration.

In the bill’s Senate committee hearing last year the BLM voiced opposition. The Forest Service cautioned the bill’s intent. The Wilderness Study Areas provide, “an integral role supporting fish and wildlife, ecosystem services, and enabling the public to experience their naturalness and enjoy opportunities for solitude, and unconfined recreation,” and were left alone with wilderness character for 41 years.

Senator Daines has indicated Montanans had a chance for comment to the U.S. Forest Service and BLM. Not in a focused way for the Wales Creek, Hoodoo Mountain, and Middle Fork Judith Montana Wilderness Study Areas. Ninety-four percent of Montanans indicated in a recent survey we want continued protection.

Public access, wildlife habitat, security for elk, moose, fisher, pine marten and wolverines, streams with cutthroat trout, subalpine environment and outdoor enthusiasts’ opportunity is gouged with this act. Economic losses accrue as hikers, hunters, and camping businesses are sorely affected.

Montanans celebrate outdoors no matter which side of the aisle you’re on.

The “Last Best Place” Senator Daines and Senator Tester could champion a bill adding wilderness. Glacier, Yellowstone, and Grand Teton National Parks met Wilderness Act requirements and recommendations. Management plan recommendations for another Montana wilderness designation of Big Snowy Mountains, with moose, knife-like rock ridges and pristine lake environment, would make Lewistown proud.

This is the public lands legacy Montanans would like to see you lead, Senator Daines.

– Michael Dedman