Take Action: Protect Big Game Habitat and Hunting Opportunity

Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest

Hunters and anglers: now is your chance to influence how your public lands are managed and help protect our hunting and fishing heritage.

The Helena and Lewis and Clark National Forest (HLCNF) 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. The comment period ends on March 31, 2017.

The Helena and Lewis and Clark National Forest includes covers the Elkhorns, Rocky Mountain Front, Big Belts, Little Belts, Highwoods, Crazies, Castles and Snowies. The Divide landscape west of Helena along with the upper Blackfoot drainage are also included.

The draft Forest Plan achieves a good, reasonable balance by protecting critical watersheds for threatened bull trout and west slope cutthroat trout; critical habitat for elk, deer, bighorn sheep, bears and mountain goats as well as threatened and endangered species; improving recreational opportunities; allowing for sustainable logging, grazing, mining, energy development and other important development activities.

This land is a sportsmen’s paradise with some of the best public hunting and fishing opportunities in the world. The Forest Service needs your comments on the record so they can protect these lands for us.

Learn more about the Forest Plan Here:
https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/helena/landmanagement/planning/?cid=fseprd524144

Submit your comments HERE:
https://cara.ecosystem-management.org/Public/CommentInput?Project=44589

Please Note These Specific Points in Your Comments:
Please comment on how these lands are important to you personally. Talk about why you hunt and fish on these lands and waters. In addition, it would help if you said the following:

  • Big-game needs Big, Intact Habitat. Wildlife research shows the importance of big-game hiding cover and security in order to maintain healthy, balanced elk and deer herds and hunting opportunities. 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.
  • Wildlife and Hunters Need Wilderness. I support the draft Forest Plan’s proposes to designate nine critical areas – a total of 281,235 acres – as wilderness. In addition, I would like to see the 29,168 acres in the Camas Creek area of the Big Belts recommended for wilderness designation.
  • Protect At-Risk Watersheds. The draft Forest Plan also identifies 159 watersheds that are “at risk,” 34 watersheds that are “impaired,” and 103 watersheds that are “properly functioning.” I support 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 degrade watersheds.