Sneak attack on Wilderness Study areas?

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When I was a kid and was learning to hunt, stealth and surprise often resulted in hunting success. But I also played team sports that taught me sportsmanship, and the importance of rules in competition.

A little later on I learned that some adults don’t like to lose and will throw the rulebook and sportsmanship alike out the window just to get their way.

Something like this happened recently when the Montana House initiated a sneak attack on Montana’s Wilderness Study Areas. House Joint Resolution 9 urges “the United States Congress to release certain wilderness study areas in Montana from inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System.”

The seven Montana Wilderness Study Areas targeted by this resolution protect spectacular landscapes that conserve our wildlife, water, and recreation heritage.

Montana’s Wilderness Study Areas have protected our headwaters from damage due to forest road building, thus conserving one of Montana’s most important assets: its water. For example, why is Flathead Lake one of the cleanest large lakes in the Lower 48? Because most of its water comes from Wilderness areas and protected federal public lands like Glacier National Park and the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex.

As for the “benefits” of forest road construction and “multiple-use access improvements,” these too are imaginary. According to the U.S. Forest Service, they can’t maintain the roads they have, and have been closing roads in part to save us – the U.S. taxpayer – money. Montana’s Wilderness Study Act lands have conserved and protected Montana’s assets such as water, wildlife and traditional recreation heritage. No wasted forest assets. Just conserved assets.

Dave Hadden

Bigfork

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