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Pine Creek Lake. Photo by Walker Stole
Dec 07 2017

Senator Daines Is Sabotaging Our Wild Legacy

Today he introduced a bill stripping protection from a half-million acres of Montana's wildest, most pristine public lands

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Today, Sen. Daines sabotaged Montana’s wild legacy

He introduced a bill that would strip protection from nearly a half-million acres of our wildest and most pristine public lands. And he did so without holding a single public meeting or a single town hall for Montanans to discuss his bill. 

His bill would remove protection from five wilderness study areas (WSAs): West Pioneer (151,000 acres), Blue Joint (32,500 acres), Sapphire (94,000), Middle Fork Judith (81,000), and Big Snowies (91,000).

If this bill were to pass, it would represent the single biggest loss of protected public lands in our state’s history. 

Take action now. Call Senator Daines at 1-855-297-9453 and voice your opposition to his half-baked, top-down bill. 

For 40 years, these WSAs have protected community watersheds, allowed elk herds and trout populations to flourish, and safeguarded the revered places that are the bedrock of our outdoor recreation economy.

Lewistown can boast of having the purest water and some of the best fishing in the state because of the WSA-protection given the Big Snowies. The Big Hole River would not be a world-renowned blue-ribbon fishing stream if not for the protection of its headwaters in the West Pioneers. The deep limestone canyons and dense forests of the Middle Fork Judith had provided secure habitat for big game because of its wilderness study area status. The high, quiet ridgelines of the Sapphires and Blue Joint Wilderness Study Areas define the southern end of the Bitterroot Valley.

We believe that it’s time to decide on how these areas should be managed for the long-haul. But we believe that any management decisions regarding any wilderness study area must involve a diverse group of stakeholders working together at the local level towards agreement and mutual benefit.

But if Senator Daines has his way, these five areas totaling nearly a half-million acres would be forever altered – without a single public meeting.   

Our public lands deserve better.

You can help by contacting Senator Daines today.

Tell him you oppose his legislation to eliminate wilderness study areas. And let him know that decisions involving future management of our public lands must be the outcome of a bi-partisan, collaborative process – not a one-size-fits-all edict from Washington D.C.

If this bill were to pass, it would represent the single biggest loss of protected public lands in our state’s history. 

Our public lands serve as gathering grounds, a place where people come together.  Senator Daines should understand this better than any of us.  After all, he was engaged on a peak deep inside a wilderness study area.

Wilderness study areas need balanced solutions that preserve our state’s wilderness heritage and follow commonsense set of principles. And our elected officials need to handle these places with the respect they deserve. 

Montana’s outdoor legacy depends on it.

- John Todd, MWA conservation director