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Pine Creek Lake. Photo by Walker Stole
Mar 11 2016

Ripe for Wilderness

The time is now for designating Scotchman Peaks as big W

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Spanning the Idaho-Montana border, the ruggedly sublime Scotchman Peaks roadless area continues to gain momentum as a candidate for Wilderness designation. Support is growing quickly, and very soon Congress will be called to act.

Located in the far northwestern reaches of our state, the Scotchman Peaks of Montana includes nearly 48,000-acres of roadless area, a place where mountain goats, grizzly bears, wolverines, and people all roam.

The Kootenai Forest Stakeholders Coalition, of which MWA is a member, recently reached an agreement on a package of recommendations that includes Wilderness protection for the Scotchmans. MWA and the coalition are now working with Montana’s congressional delegation towards legislation that would designate the Montana side of the Scotchman Peaks roadless area as wilderness. Click to see a map of the areas this agreement would protect

A diverse group of entities – including the city of Thompson Falls, the Bull Lake Rod and Gun Club, the Missoulian, and Governor Steve Bullock – have also come out in support of big W for the Scotchmans.

In Idaho, legislative momentum is well underway and a bill has already been drafted. Endorsements from Idaho are also far-reaching and powerful. For instance, all three republican commissioners from Bonner County signed a resolution calling for Congress to enact legislation that designates the Idaho portion of the Scotchman’s as Wilderness. Furthermore, the Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce, Idaho Forest Group, along with Bonner County Daily Bee and the Spokesman Review, all support protecting the wildlife, recreation, and tourism values of the Scotchman Peaks.

To top this all off, Republican Senator Jim Risch, who sits on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, has stated that he will introduce a wilderness bill this session.

Montana’s congressional delegates are now in an exceptionally good position to follow Idaho Senator Jim Risch’s lead and introduce their own legislation that includes protection for the Montana side of Scotchman Peaks.

- Amy Robinson, MWA northwest Montana field director