Photo by Ian Cameron

Wilderness by the numbers

Here are some fast facts to help you understand the state of Montana’s—and the nation’s—wildlands.

Montana Wilderness Facts

Montana landbase (acres): 94,109,542
Total Wilderness acres: 3,443,038
Percent of land base: 3.7%
Total number of Wilderness areas: 15
Total Forest Service Inventoried Roadless Area acres: 6,397,000
Percent of land base that is Roadless: 6.8%

National Wilderness Facts

Number of wilderness areas: 756
Total Wilderness acres nationwide: 107,436,608
State with most acres: Alaska contains 57,422,302 of the total acres, approximately 53%
Percent of national landbase: 4.41% of the continental United States. Excluding Alaska, wilderness comprises only
2.5%of our national landbase
Percent of land base that is Roadless: 2%
Loss of Roadless acres in past 20 years: Over 3.5 million

Montana Wilderness and Public Lands Statistics

Total Acres in Montana 94,109,440 acres
Total Square Miles in Montana 145,556 square miles
Total Remaining Montana Wildland Base 9,839,100 acres
Total Wilderness Acres in Montana 3,443,038 acres
Percent of Land Base 3.7%
Total Number of Wilderness Areas 15
Total Unprotected Wilderness1 Acres in Montana 6,397,000 acres
Percent of Land Base 6.8%
Total Acres of Public Lands in Montana2 27,378,247 acres
Percent of Land Base 29%

Total Public Acres by Managing Agency

Agency Acreage (% of Montana)
U.S. Forest Service 16,893,000 (18%)
National Park Service 1,222,314 (1%)
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 1,227,478 (1%)
Bureau of Land Management 8,060,382 (9%)
Total 27,378,247 (29%)
Federally Protected/Designated Wilderness 3,443,038 (3.7%)

Designated Wilderness by Agency

Agency Acreage
U.S. Forest Service 3,372,503
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 64,535
Bureau of Land Management 6,000
Total 3,443,038

Remaining Roadless Lands and Potential Wilderness

Agency Acreage
U.S. Forest Service 5,337,694
National Park Service 1,037,160
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 157,000
Bureau of Land Management 447,327
Total 6,979,181

National Forests Acreage

Forest Supervision Office Approximage Acres
Beaverhead-Deerlodge Dillon 3.32 million acres
Bitterroot Hamilton 1.6 million acres
Custer Billings 1.3 million acres
Flathead Kalispell 2.3 million acres
Gallatin Bozeman 1.8 million acres
Helena Helena 975,407 acres
Kaniksu Coeur D’Alene, ID 2.1 million acres
Kootenai Libby 2.2 million acres
Lewis & Clark Great Falls 1.8 million acres
Lolo Missoula 2.0 million acres
National Forest Totals   19.39 million acres

Forest Service Wilderness Areas Acreage

Wilderness/Forest Acres
Absaroka-Beartooth  
     Custer NF 345,599
     Gallatin NF 574,744
Anaconda Pintler  
     Bitterroot NF 41,162
Bob Marshall  
     Flathead NF 709,356
     Lewis & Clark NF 300,000
Cabinet Mountains  
     Kaniksu NF 44,320
     Kootenai NF 49,952
Gates of the Mountains  
     Helena NF 28,562
Great Bear  
     Flathead NF 286,700
Lee Metcalf  
     Beaverhead NF 107,694
     Gallatin NF 140,594
Mission Mountains  
     Flathead NF 73,877
Rattlesnake  
     Lolo NF 32,976
Scapegoat  
     Helena NF 80,697
     Lewis & Clark NF 84,407
     Lolo NF 74,832
Selway-Bitterroot  
     Bitterroot NF 241,676
     Lolo NF 9,767
Welcome Creek  
     Lolo NF 28,135

Bureau of Land Management Wilderness Areas Acreage

Wilderness Acres
Lee Metcalf 6,000

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Wilderness Areas Acreage

Wilderness Acres
Medicine Lake  
     Medicine Lake NWR 11,366
Red Rock Lakes  
     Red Rock Lakes NWR 32,350
UL Bend  
     UL Bend NWR 20,819
Total Wilderness Acres in Montana 3,443,038

National Wild, Scenic and Recreation Rivers Wilderness Areas Acreage

Wilderness NFS Other Total
Flathead National Wild River      
     Flathead NF 38,346 19,054 57,400

Sources:

  1. U.S. Census TIGER data for State border
  2. The USGS National Hydrography Dataset
  3. Natural Heritage Program Stewardship/Ownership Data
  4. Montana State Library, Natural Resource Information System
  5. USDA Forest Service

For detailed information on each of Montana Wilderness Areas, we recommend you visit wilderness.net. (Please note: the Montana Wilderness Association is not associated with Wilderness.net.)

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