Central Montana's Secret Wildlands
The Musselshell breaks country is a wondrous landscape of buttes, breaks, badlands, and prairies
In this open and untamed country with few roads and fewer trails, everything is off the beaten path.
This is the wild heart of Montana, where the Musselshell River sweeps north to meet the Missouri through a vast landscape of buttes, breaks, badlands, grassland seas, and open forests. Mountain ranges in the distance are dwarfed by the vastness of the prairie. It’s a stunning place rich in human history, wildlife habitat, and solitude - and one of North America’s last remaining intact large-scale prairie ecosystems.
Now, like never before, we have a chance to protect the future of these pristine prairie wildlands - places devoid of roads, shaped only by the ever-present flow of wind and water - and ensure that they remain part of Montana’s wildland heritage.
The Bureau of Land Management’s Lewistown Field Office will soon release a draft Resource Management Plan (RMP) for nearly 650,000 surface acres of public land. We are working to ensure the BLM protects the intact natural character of these lands and prioritizes primitive recreation opportunities while prohibiting road building and oil and gas leasing.
The Lewistown Resource Management Plan offers the BLM an opportunity to balance landscape-scale conservation with other economically and environmentally sustainable uses by recognizing that preserving wildness and wildlife habitat are the highest and best uses for these extraordinary public lands.
Our prairie wildlife and outdoor legacy depend on it.
What’s at Stake
Montana has what most western states lost long ago: hundreds of thousands of acres of unplowed, undeveloped, and diverse grasslands, stretching from the UL Bend to Arrow Creek and the Missouri River Breaks.
West Crooked Creek, Dovetail, Cottonwood, Carter Coulee, Horse Camp Trail, Dunn Ridge, Chain Buttes, Carroll Coulee, Fort Musselshell (A and B), Spear Coulee, Biggett, Big Snowies tack-ons (A and B), Chimney Bend, Dog Creek South, Armell’s Creek, and Fargo Coulee are pristine wild areas. Unique to Montana, these untrammeled wildlands should be managed specifically to protect their wild character.
Blood Creek, Cemetery Road, Drag Creek, the Judith Mountains, Arrow Creek, Little Crooked Creek, and Red Mountain are places where we need to conserve and enhance this habitat revered by outdoor enthusiasts. The BLM should prioritize responsible recreation access and habitat restoration in these places over new roads and resource extraction. If these areas are not managed for these objectives, their unique wild character will be at great risk.
The BLM recognized these areas are all exceptionally wild when it inventoried the management area several years ago at the beginning of this planning process. We applaud the agency’s identification of these units as lands with wilderness characteristics, and strongly encourage the BLM continue its work by protecting these units as the wildlands they are.
This rare landscape is priceless to Montanans and to all Americans. The Lewistown Resource Management Plan offers the BLM an opportunity to balance landscape-scale conservation with other economically and environmentally sustainable uses by recognizing that preserving wildness and wildlife habitat are the highest and best uses for these extraordinary public lands.