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Photo by Patrick Colleran
Apr 23 2015

Fill the Gap!

Bunker Creek needs to be part of The Bob, and you can help do it

Around MWA

Looking at the outline the Bob Marshall Wilderness complex boundary, you’ll notice a huge indentation along the western edge of the boundary. It looks like a giant arrow has been shot into The Bob and forced the boundary inward about 15 miles, creating a big gap where you would expect there to be designated wilderness. You might assume that the landscape within that gap must not have stunning views or abundant wildlife or other wilderness characteristics, since it is not part of The Bob.

That assumption, while understandable, is completely wrong.

Bunker Creek and other near-by drainages located within the gap produce abundant quantities of two of our most precious assets--water and wildlife. Doug Chadwick, author and wildlife biologist, said of the Bunker Creek area in 1983: “I cannot imagine why these areas were not incorporated as they are a natural addition to the Bob and perhaps the best of all habitats in the Swan.” John Weaver, carnivore conservation biologist for Wildlife Conservation Society, said in his 2011 Roadless Area Report, “Very high values (for conservation of vulnerable fish and wildlife) were concentrated in Bunker Creek and upper Sullivan Creek.”

Experts have told us the lands in the gap, especially Bunker Creek and upper Sullivan Creek, are very important from a scientific point of view. The mountain goats, elk, and grizzlies who live there tell us they think it’s a perfect home. The hunters and hikers that treasure the area for the views, inspiration, and wildlife tell us this is an area we need to respect.

Our economy and our quality of life are driven by timber, recreation, and tourism. Guests don’t visit Montana to see our McDonalds; they come to see our spectacular wild places. Adding Bunker Creek and upper Sullivan Creek to the “The Bob" will help fill the gap in the wilderness area while enhancing our economy and helping ensure yet unborn Montanans will have water and wildlife to enjoy.

The Flathead National Forest recently released its draft management plan, but hasn’t included Bunker Creek as wilderness. We want the Flathead to reconsider and fill the gap.

Please tell the Flathead National Forest to extend the Bob Marshall Wilderness north to include the wild and restored Bunker Creek and upper Sullivan Creek – critical areas for grizzlies, elk, mountain goats, and other wildlife species.

Please email your comments to flatheadplanrevision@fs.fed.us or snail mail to:

Flathead National Forest Supervisors Office
Attention: Forest Plan Revision
650 Wolfpack Way
Kalispell, MT 59901

And while you’re at it, please tell the Flathead National Forest to also:

  1. Expand the Jewel Basin Recommended Wilderness to the west and protect the wild Swan Front. Bring the wilderness boundary down to the valley floor.
      
  2. Widen the Mission Mountain Wilderness Area to include the wildlife corridor of Sunset Ridge, the critical bull trout spawning beds of Elk and Hemlock creeks, and the rugged, species-rich lower slopes.

The deadline for submitting comments is May 15, 2015 (recently extended from the original deadline of May 5).

- Lee Boman, MWA president