Preserving the last best place in the last best place
A rich history of conservation
Montana's Rocky Mountain Front is unique in the nation, and we have made huge investments to conserve this premier landscape. It started in 1913 with creation of the state’s first wildlife preserve, and that legacy of conservation has passed from generation to generation. Today, voluntary conservation easements cover 100,000 acres of private lands along the Front.
In 2006, many Montanans worked with their elected officials to pass legislation halting new federal oil and gas leasing on the Front. This home-grown solution allows existing leases to be retired after they are voluntarily donated or sold, ensuring that critical wildlife habitat and public access are protected for future generations to enjoy.
There is still much work required to keep the Front the way it is today. One of the region’s most sensitive areas is the foreland connecting the wilderness to the west to the public and private winter range to the east. This narrow band of public land comprises a fragile and irreplaceable link between the lowlands and the mountains.
A champion for the Front
October 28, 2011 will forever be special in the hearts of people who love the Rocky Mountain Front. On that day, Montana Senator Max Baucus announced his sponsorship of the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act. Dozens of meetings with mountain bikers and ranchers, outfitters and grazing permittees, outdoors enthusiasts and business owners had convinced the senator that the Heritage Act must have its time on Capitol Hill.
The Heritage Act is the result of a wide variety of Montanans working cooperatively to protect the Front while protecting grazing opportunities for ranchers, and public access for hunters, anglers and outdoor enthusiasts.
The Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act:
- Protects public access for hunters, anglers and outdoor enthusiasts.
- Designates 208,000 acres as a Conservation Management Area, a home-grown category that would limit road-building while it protects current motorized recreation and public access for hunting, biking, timber-thinning and grazing.
- Prioritizes eradication and prevention of noxious weeds on the designated public lands. This, in turn, helps protect adjacent private lands.
- Designates 67,000 acres of the Rocky Mountain Front as additions to the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex.
- Allows continued grazing access for Montana ranching families.
The Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act has garnered endorsements from a broad range of Montana businesses and associations, along with distinguished leaders across the state. The Coalition to Protect the Rocky Mountain Front had been working up to this point officially since 2007. The Montana Wilderness Association is a leading member of the Coalition.
MWA’s Island Range and Wild Divide chapter members help with phone banks, hang posters, give presentations, attend listening sessions, and lead wilderness walks on the Rocky Mountain Front to engage and educate the public about the Heritage Act. These volunteers also write letters to the editor in newspapers across the state.
Want to get involved? Contact us today to find out what you can do to help protect the Rocky Mountain Front.