Proposing Wilderness for the Great Burn

Jun 28, 2015

Stretching between Lolo Pass and Lookout Pass in the Northern Bitterroot Mountains along the Idaho-Montana border, the Great Burn spans an area as large as Glacier National Park, encompassing some of the wildest roadless country left in the Lower 48. From its ancient groves of western red cedars and temperate rainforest, to its sprawling alpine meadows, the Great Burn provides crucial habitat connectivity for elk, mountain goats, and wolverines. The area is in close proximity to Missoula and offers some of the best alpine access for hikers and horse-packers in the Northern Rockies.

Forest Plans for the Lolo and Clearwater National Forests recommend 275,000 acres in Montana and Idaho for Congressional designation as the Great Burn Wilderness. At the heart of the Great Burn is the Hoodoo Roadless Area, an immense, 252,000-acre wildland that consistently ranks as one of the area's most deserving of Congressional Wilderness designation. Portions or all of the Great Burn have been proposed for Wilderness designation in no fewer than sixteen Wilderness bills carried by Idaho and Montana legislators, with the support of our partners at Montana Wilderness Association and the Great Burn Study Group. The Forest Service is managing the area as Recommended Wilderness, and from the air, it is apparent that the Great Burn is indeed wild and deserving of formal protection - an official wilderness designation would ensure permanent protection of the area as it stands today.