TWS - Rocky Mountain Front 6-22-11

Jun 22, 2011

EcoFlight flew with The Wilderness Society over The Rocky Mountain Front, in northwest Montana, an icon of wildlands, wildlife, beauty, and diversity. It contains the second largest migratory elk herd in the lower 48 states, abundant bighorn sheep, deer and mountain goat populations and a robust and growing raptor population - all due to the connectivity between summer and winter habitats and the intact ecosystems throughout the Rocky Mountain Front.

Passage of federal legislation in 2006 banned new oil and gas leasing on 500,000 acres of the Front and the permanent retirement of existing oil and gas leases on another 120,000 acres.

Together with the Coalition to Protect the Rocky Mountain Front, The Wilderness Society is working to secure permanent safeguards for the remaining unprotected public lands on the Rocky Mountain Front. In 2009, the Coalition unveiled the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act, with much local input, to protect the ranching and farming heritage of the Front, its wildlife habitat and hiking and horse-packing trails.

Along with adding to the existing federal wilderness areas, the proposal creates new "Conservation Management Area" designations, which act as buffer zones between private lands and the wilderness. In addition, the proposal includes provisions for an additional $200,000 per year to fight the spread of harmful noxious weeds along the Front.