The Garnet Mountains
Issue: Wild Lands
Partners: Hellgate Hunters and Anglers, Montana Wilderness Association, Montana Wildlife Federation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
Flights with Clark Fork Coalition, county commissioners and press highlighted the importance of stream and riparian areas near Missoula as a top priority for open space funds for acquisition and maintenance.
The Missoula Field Office oversees the management and protection of over 160,000 acres of widely varying public lands across nine counties. This isn't a contiguous zone, but rather a collection of highly unique places. These public lands include heavily used recreation areas along the lower stretch of the Blackfoot River, geologically significant areas well-loved by rock climbers, and the last remaining roadless areas of the Garnet Range, which offer rich habitat for moose, elk, deer, bear, and other wildlife.
In 2014, the BLM identified 25,000 acres in the Missoula Field Office management area worthy of surveying for wilderness characteristics. MWA reviewed those 25,000 acres and found that nearly 17,000 of them qualified as "lands with wilderness characteristics" (LWCs) and deserved protection. However, in the current Draft Resource Management Plan for the Missoula Field Office, the BLM's preferred management alternative fails to permanently protect LWCs, removes protections for areas of critical environmental concern and offers other areas up for timber harvest.