Montana Hunters Support Roadless Areas: Threat of HR1581

Montana outdoorsmen and women enjoy wild trout fisheries and some of the best, longest elk and mule deer hunting opportunities in North America. That privilege depends on pristine, undeveloped habitat that the Forest Service calls “Roadless Areas.” Dad and son

Roadless Areas in Montana cover approximately 6.3 million acres of our National Forests from the Beaverhead-Deerlodge to the Kootenai. Hunting and fishing as we know it in Montana simply would not exist without these undeveloped habitats.

Ninety percent of the lands affected by the legislation are within 2 miles of an existing road. Roadless areas are the places that we drive up to the edge of, park our rigs and hunt on foot. They are the accessible "middle ground" between Wilderness like the Bob Marshall and the roaded front country,providing good wildlife habitat and great walk-in hunting for the average foot hunter who likes to get outfor day hunts on the weekend. Furthermore, roadless areas are managed for multiple use, allowing firewood cutting, game carts, OHV riding on established trails, timber managementto mitigate fire risk, habitat management for wildlife, and even oil and gas development on existing leases....the only thing the government can't do is build new roads.

Studies show that hunter success rates are higher in unroaded areas (25%) than in roaded areas (15%). (Gratson and Whitman, 2000); elk occur in greater densities in roadless areas compared to roaded areas. (Thiessen, 1976); higher road densities cause a reduction in the length and quality of the hunting season, loss of habitat, over harvest and population decline of elk. (Lyon and Vasile, 1980); and that one result of road construction is the decreased capacity of the habitat to support elk due to decreased habitat effectiveness. (Leptich and Zager, 1991)

Montanans have long said they wanted these areas left as they are. Over decades, there have been exhaustive processes both at the state and federal level that have reached the same conclusion – and the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule is the law of the land.

Any threat to roadless areas is a threat to hunting and fishing opportunity in Montana. Montana Wildlife Federation has been actively engaged in the fight to keep the roadless rule since the 1990s.

Unfortunately, Beltway politics are now trying to trump existing conservation measures. Primarily, this is in the form of short-sighted, top-down legislation, H.R. 1581. This bill would eliminate protection on approximately 85% of all Inventoried Roadless Areas in Montana, about 5.5 million acres.

The science is clear: Roadless Areas help protect elk and nurture them. Montanans enjoy over-the-counter elk and deer tags and a chance for mature bulls and bucks because of secure habitat. In a time when elk and mule deer face serious problems, loss of their habitat shouldn’t be one of them.

Roadless areas are also source of clean water that feed our blue ribbon trout streams. Even if you never set foot in a Roadless Areas, you probably benefit from them.

That’s why leading Montana hunters’ groups – MWF and twenty-five other sportsmen’s groups across the state – all oppose HR 1581.

Please join, the Montana Wildlife Federation, and protect habitat that provides hunting opportunity. Big game needs big country. Let’s make sure that the Montana we love is the Montana our children and grandchildren enjoy.

The Links below show overwhelming support from the Outdoor industry, and the conservation community. Included below are numerous articles and studies to support our validation that Roadless Areas help hunters, and more importantly, help elk and mule deer.

MWF articles and press releases:

Letter to: Congressman Dennis Rehberg regarding HR1581

Press Release: Montana Wildlife Federation Accelerates Campaign to save Roadless Areas

Timeline: Montana Wildlife Federation Support for Roadless Areas

Flathead Beacon Article: Delegation Divided on Roadless Area Act

Helena Independent Record Article : Judge Nixes Bush Roadless Plan

Ravalli Republic Article: New roadless rule would give governors voice

Web Page Links:

Text of HR 1581

Testimony of Harris Sherman, Undersecretary for Natural Resources and the Environment, Department of Agriculture

Blog Roll / Support of Roadless Links:

Montana's Bully Pulpit Article: The Assault on Elk: Part 1

Montana's Bully Pulpit Article: The Assault on Elk: Part 2

Field & Stream: Roads To Nowhere: A Motorized American Wilderness is Looming

Field & Stream: Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Retracts Support of Anti-Roadless Bill

Links to PDF Articles:

The Worst Season: Bugle Magazine, May/June 2010

My Mountain, Myself: Bugle Magazine, Jan/Feb 2010

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership led and effort to solidify support for Roadless Country. MWF was proud to be a part of that effort: Banking on the Backcountry

Scientific Research Articles (PDF)

Biolgists from the Montana Chapter of the Wildlife Socieity researches: Effects of Recreation on Rocky Mountain Wildlife

The United States Department of Agriculture report on: Assessing the Cumulative Effects of Linear Recreation Routs on Wildlife Habitats on the Okanogan and Wenatchee National Forests

Mary M. Rowland, Michael J. Wisdom, Bruce K. Johnson and Mark A. Penniger collectively researches on the: Effects of Roads on Elk: Implications for Management in Forested Ecosystems

Wildlife Biologist / Sr. Scientist, Barrie K. Gilbert, Ph.D. researches the topic of: Motorized access on Montana Rocky Mountain Front

The USDA Forest Service releases findings on the: Effects of Off-Road Recreation on Mule Deer and Elk


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