Daines’ bill triggers dispute over wilderness study areas

Blue Joint Wilderness Study Area in western Montana - photo by Zack Porter
Blue Joint Wilderness Study Area in western Montana – photo by Zack Porter

Here’s a pretty good overview by the Flathead Beacon of Senator Steve Daines’ top-down attempt to close several Montana wilderness study areas.

By the way, take a close look at the photo accompanying the Beacon article. The guy handling the oars of that drift boat should look familiar . . .

Scrolling through the Instagram account managed by U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, a conservative Republican from Bozeman, it’s clear he’s hewed a well-established groove in the firmament of Western outdoors pursuits.

Populating the first-term senator’s social media feed are pictures of him on backpacking trips deep in the Beartooth Mountains; him bagging ungulates on sunbaked foothills with his wife, Cindy; the family’s mini-Aussies, Reagan and Ruby, chasing mice; and Daines plucking native cutthroat trout from the Yellowstone River. The pictures often bear captions championing public-land access as a cornerstone value in Montana, and they leave behind the politicking inherent to Daines’ work in Washington, D.C.

Daines’ views on public-land access have led him to call for opening up nearly 450,000 acres of federally protected parcels — currently managed by the U.S. Forest Service as wilderness study areas — to a suite of new uses, including logging, grazing and motorized use.

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