Congressman Gianforte is trailing along with Senator Daines in proposing to eliminate quite a few Montana wilderness study areas . . .
Montana U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte has drafted two bills proposing to release almost 690,000 acres (279,000 hectares) of wilderness study areas in Montana.
One of Gianforte’s bills echoes Montana Sen. Steve Daines’ bill introduced in the Senate late last year. It proposes to release 449,500 acres (182,000 hectares) of wilderness study areas all on national forest lands.
The Billings Gazette reports that Gianforte also authored a separate act to release an additional 240,000 acres (97,000 hectares) of Bureau of Land Management wilderness.
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.
Two important bills will receive a hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday, February 7. Senator Steve Daines is a member of this committee.
Please call Senator Daines’ office today at (202) 224-2651.
(1) Ask Senator Daines to SUPPORT S. 507, the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act.
This bill is the result of an agreement reached by a diversity of citizens—mill owners, snowmobilers, mountain bikers, backcountry horsemen, business owners, and conservationists. The bill meets the needs of these diverse forest users, while designating 80,000 acres of new wilderness and solving many other business and recreation problems. Senator Tester proposed this citizen-developed legislation while Senator Daines has refused to endorse it even though 3 out of 4 Montanans support the bill. Let Senator Daines know that he needs to co-sponsor this made-in-Montana legislation.
(2) Ask Senator Daines to OPPOSE S. 2206, which will end protection of many of Montana’s Wilderness Study Areas.
This bill, introduced by Senator Daines, represents the biggest rollback of protected public land in Montana’s history. Not a single public hearing was held before crafting this legislation affecting almost half of million acres of some of most remote and beautiful public lands in our state, including Big Snowies, Middle Fork Judith, West Pioneers, Sapphire Mountains, and the Blue Joint. Rather than save these lands for future generations to enjoy in their wild state, this legislation could open them for mining, drilling, or destructive development. Ask Senator Daines to withdraw his support for this bill and allow citizens to have a voice in what happens in our wilderness study areas.
Montana U.S. Sen. Steve Daines surprised Montanans by introducing the deceptively named Protect Public Use of Public Lands Act that would put nearly half a million acres of prime public lands in Montana at risk of development and exploitation.
Montana’s Wilderness Study Areas were identified 40 years ago as special, wild places, worthy of careful management. They vary greatly in habitat, ecosystems, and recreational offerings. A blanket policy applied across diverse areas is never good management. We therefore oppose Daines’ one-size-fits-all plan.
Many WSAs are overdue for action, and we’re not opposed to revisiting and finalizing management plans. But forcing a top-down and broad-brush approach to managing lands that haven’t been studied in decades is irresponsible.
Review should start with local, thoughtful and diverse discussions involving various stakeholders. Daines didn’t hold a single public meeting or ask for input from Montanans about these WSAs. His proposal not only ignores local input, which, apparently, is important to Daines only when it suits his needs; it also selects areas attractive to special interest development and resource extraction.
Many Montanans rely on WSAs. With his proposal Daines once again is ignoring those of us who value them to hunt, fish and reconnect with the landscape.
From Debo Powers, NFPA President: Conservation organizations around Montana are organizing opposition to Senator Daines’ bill to release Wilderness Study Areas for multiple use. This is an attack on our wild heritage and will be met with fierce opposition. Here is a blog written by John Todd, the Conservation Director for the Montana Wilderness Association . . .
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.
In the face of some angry senatorial blow-back, the Forest Service has restored full trail maintenance funding in Region 1. For now . . .
The U.S. Forest Service has dropped its proposal to reduce funding for trail maintenance in Montana. The agency originally planned to reduce appropriations for Region One, which includes Montana, by 30 percent over the next three years. This included a potential loss of $1 million to Montana’s federal trail budget this year.
U.S. Sens. Steve Daines and Jon Tester criticized Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell last week for failing to prioritize trail maintenance in Montana. The agency proposed revising its formula for funding trail maintenance across the U.S. with an added emphasis on higher population centers. In Region One, there are 28,000 miles of federally managed trails.
The agency on Friday said it would reconsider the formula change and withdrew the proposal.
Senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines are not happy about the state of Forest Service funding for fighting wildfires and maintaining trails . . .
As the U.S. Forest Service prepares for the looming wildfire season, Montana’s senators are calling for reforms to the agency’s forest and trail management.
U.S. Sens. Jon Tester and Steve Daines questioned Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell last week during a Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee hearing focused on the agency’s $4.8 billion budget request for the next fiscal year.
Tester and Daines criticized Tidwell for failing to prioritize trail maintenance in Montana. The agency has revised its formula for funding trail maintenance across the U.S. with an added emphasis on higher population centers. In Region One, which encompasses all of Montana and has 28,000 miles of federally managed trails, the agency plans to reduce appropriations by 30 percent over the next three years. There is an estimated $25 million in deferred trail maintenance in Region One, according to a Forest Service report.
Tristan Scott over at the Flathead Beacon has a long, very interesting article discussing the conservation movement on the right side of the political spectrum. . .
It’s late August in Montana and the North Fork of the Flathead River is running low and slow, snaking through a chalky corridor of wildfire smoke, its steep banks inscribed with the tracks of deer and grizzly bears, wallpapered with a mix of blackened snags and young lodgepole pine, and scored with clusters of radiant fireweed.
The smoke blotting the sky overhead hangs in contrast against the transparency of the water below, magnifying the burnished bottom-stones and the shimmering flashes of bull trout, rainbows and cutties.
Somewhere downstream from the Glacier Rim river access, about 10 miles north of Columbia Falls, a ClackaCraft drift boat cuts through the glassy surface, which longtime fly-fishing guide and oarsman Irv Heitz navigates from his perch in the middle of the boat, rowing and setting his clients up on fish. At the bow, U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, dressed in zip-off Columbia cargo pants and a T-shirt, leans against the boat’s leg bracket, casting a dry fly at the tail of a riffle that’s usually filthy with trout.
From our friends at the National Parks Conservation Association . . .
We’re planning a summer celebration of Glacier National Park’s North Fork, right on the riverbank the morning of Aug. 24.
Sens. Jon Tester and Steve Daines together will welcome Canada’s Consulate General Marcy Grossman to commemorate a truly historic transboundary and bipartisan alliance, forever protecting the communities and culture of Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park.
Places such as Waterton-Glacier and the North Fork Flathead River Valley do not happen by accident. They are choices that we make together – choices such as the recent Canadian and US legislation that protects our North Fork heritage. Please join us to celebrate the priceless gift of many more summers on the river! We’ll bring the coffee.
Details and directions below…
Directions to Blankenship Bridge (for non-North Forkers):
Enter Columbia Falls on US Hwy 2
Turn north on Nucleus Avenue
Turn Right at the “T” intersection, onto Railroad Street