MISSOULA, Mont. – Sen. Steve Daines introduced legislation Thursday to remove protection from 449,500 acres of wilderness study areas. It’s called the Protect Public Use of Public Lands Act.
The five areas impacted would be West Pioneer east of Wisdom, Blue Joint south of Hamilton, Sapphire east of Hamilton, Middle Fork Judith south of Stanford and the Big Snowies south of Lewistown.
The Montana Wilderness Association says decisions involving future management of these areas must include community input.
“Senator Daines from Washington, D.C., has put together a bill with no input from Montanans, releasing half a million acres of our very favorite backcountry playgrounds. It’s some of the very best wildlife habitat that we have, not just in Montana but in the whole lower 48 states,” said Zack Porter, field manager of the western Montana office for the Montana Wilderness Association. “This is bad for small business, the outfitters and guides who depend on these landscapes for their livelihoods, and it really is just contrary to who we are as Montanans.”
In a statement Daines said he knows how important public lands are to Montanans and gridlock in Washington has frozen access to public lands.
Daines quoted support from Ravalli County Commissioner Greg Chilcott: “It’s great to see Senator Daines address public land challenges that so many have been dealing with for decades. WSA directives have complicated land management and reduced access and use for many public land users.”