Monday, May 5, 2014

Montana Wilderness: 50 Years Old and Counting...

Absaroka/Beartooth Wilderness
"A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain."

— Wilderness Act of 1964

Early advocates such as Aldo Leopold and Bob Marshall led the fight; Congress Voted and in 1964 President Lyndon Johnson penned the Wilderness Act into Law.

Today Montana is home to 16 designated wilderness areas, comprising roughly 3.5 million acres (about 3.75 percent) of the state's lands. They include the highest peaks in the Treasure State, as well as low-lying marshland suited for wildlife refuges. These wilderness areas are home to thousands of species of flora and fauna, a number of them threatened or endangered. Sad but true, despite millions acres qualified land parcels, thanks to the usual culprits--developers, mining, logging, motorheads and such--have been designated wilderness since 1983.

Montana Wilderness By The Numbers

Total Acres in Montana 94,109,440 acres
Total Square Miles in Montana 145,556 square miles
Total Remaining Montana Wildland Base 9,839,100 acres
Total Wilderness Acres in Montana 3,443,038 acres
Percent of Land Base 3.7%
Total Number of Wilderness Areas 16
Total Unprotected Wilderness Acres in Montana 6,397,000 acres
Percent of Land Base 6.8%
Total Acres of Public Lands in Montana 27,378,247 acres

Percent of Land Base 29%

Wilderness Areas

     Custer NF 345,599
     Gallatin NF 574,744
Anaconda Pintler  
     Bitterroot NF 41,162
Bob Marshall  
     Flathead NF 709,356
     Lewis & Clark NF 300,000
Cabinet Mountains  
     Kaniksu NF 44,320
     Kootenai NF 49,952
Gates of the Mountains  
     Helena NF 28,562
Great Bear  
     Flathead NF 286,700
Lee Metcalf  
     Beaverhead NF 107,694
     Gallatin NF 140,594
     BLM                        6,000
Mission Mountains  
     Flathead NF 73,877
     Lolo NF 32,976
     Helena NF 80,697
     Lewis & Clark NF 84,407
     Lolo NF 74,832
     Bitterroot NF 241,676
     Lolo NF 9,767
Welcome Creek  

     Lolo NF 28,135
Medicine Lake  
     Medicine Lake NWR 11,366
Red Rock Lakes  
     Red Rock Lakes NWR 32,350
UL Bend  

     UL Bend NWR 20,819

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