A Sportsmen’s Paradise: Help Keep It That Way!

deer-looking-at-camera---David-Stalling
Hunters and anglers: Now is your chance to get involved, make a difference and influence how a significant portion of your public lands are managed and help protect our hunting and fishing heritage.

The Helena and Lewis and Clark National Forest is currently accepting public comments regarding their recently released draft Forest Plan revisions which will guide recreation, grazing, logging, vegetation treatment and other activities in the 2.8-million-acre forest for the next 15 years.

This land is a sportsmen’s paradise with some of the best public hunting and fishing opportunities in the world. Your comments can help keep it that way. Please send in comments before March 31.

Go to our action page on the Helena-Lewis & Clark National Forest

The draft plan achieves a good, reasonable balance in it’s multiple-use mandate by protecting and enhancing critical watersheds for threatened bull trout and west slope cutthroat trout; protecting critical habitat for elk, deer, bighorn sheep, bears and mountain goats as well as threatened and endangered species; maintaining and improving recreational opportunities; allowing for sustainable and responsible logging, grazing, mining, energy development and other important activities in appropriate areas, and supporting and boosting related economic needs and benefits of local communities.

While we support responsible, sustainable economic development, we want to ensure that our world-class hunting and fishing opportunities are sustained by protecting and restoring critical watersheds; maintaining and enhancing fair and equitable public access, and protecting unfragmented migratory corridors, summer range, winter range and other habitat that is critical for healthy big-game populations.

An abundance of wildlife research shows the importance of protecting big-game hiding cover and security in maintain healthy, balanced elk and deer herds and related hunting opportunities on public lands. In other words: big-game needs big, intact habitat. Research also shows that without large, secure, intact habitat on public lands, elk and deer are more likely to move to private lands where public access and hunting opportunity is limited or non-existent.

Therefore, we support the recommendation within the draft forest plan to designate nine critical areas – a total of 281,235 acres – as wilderness. In addition, we would like to see the 29,168 acres in the Camas Creek area of the Big Belts recommended for wilderness designation. These wilderness recommendations help strike a good, reasonable balance to the draft Forest Plan and will protect critical watersheds, wildlife corridors, wildlife habitat and help maintain critical connectivity for an abundance and diversity of wildlife – as well as help protect and enhance backcountry hunting opportunities.

The draft Forest Plan also identifies 159 watersheds that are “at risk,” 34 watersheds that are “impaired,” and 103 watersheds that are “properly functioning.” We urge the Forest Service to prioritize the protection of the properly functioning watersheds and restoration of the watersheds at risk by prohibiting new roads in riparian areas and not allowing any management activities that that could result in the downgrading of watersheds.

Go to our action page on the Helena-Lewis & Clark National Forest