BLM: Governor of MT & MT DNRC Seek Repeal of Critical Environmental Plans
By Moosetrack Megan

Posted: October 7, 2020

BLM Press release

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. – Under the Trump Administration, the Bureau of Land Management has continued to embrace its sustained yield, multiple use mandate, expanding public access for recreation, conservation, and responsible energy development on public lands. Having not been updated since the 1980s and early 1990s, the BLM finalized new Resource Management Plans (RMPs) for Lewistown and Missoula on July 30, 2020.

The RMPs are a major boon for the economy of Montana – and continue to be widely supported by the public. The lawsuit brought by the Governor of Montana and the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation is attempting to have these RMPs rescinded through the courts in Bullock v. BLM, despite working with the BLM throughout the development of the RMPs and never appealing the RMPs when there was a chance to do so.

 

Benefits of the Lewistown RMP for Montanans and the Environment

  • Creates first ever Backcountry Conservation Areas (BCAs), which promote public access to support wildlife-dependent recreation and hunting opportunities and facilitate the long-term maintenance of big game wildlife populations.
    • Arrow Creek BCA (12,800 acres)
    • Crooked Creek BCA (93,400 acres)
  • Protects National Scenic Trails and National Historic Trails by designating a half-mile area from centerline as the trail management corridor.
  • Keeps 635,500 acres open to off-highway vehicles.
  • Designates over 42,000 acres of Special Recreation Management Areas.
  • Manages the Acid Shale-Pine Forest and Square Butte areas as Areas of Critical Environmental Concern to protect significant resource values and prevent damage to important natural, biological, cultural, recreational, or scenic resources and values, and protect life and safety from natural hazards.
  • Facilitates grazing opportunities across more than 600,000 acres to support and sustain local communities while providing habitat for native plants, fish, and animals.

Benefits of the Missoula RMP for Montanans and the Environment

  • Creates three BCAs in the planning area:
    • Hoodoos BCA (6,100 acres)
    • Ram Mountain BCA (4,539 acres)
    • Wales BCA (2,365 acres)
  • Designates four Special Recreation Management Areas, totaling 71,632 acres.
  • Promotes dispersed recreation opportunities, especially for hunting and fishing, which are allowed throughout the entire planning area.
  • Protects National Scenic Trails and National Historic Trails by designating a half-mile area from centerline as the trail management corridor.
  • Manages more than 160,000 acres to implement critical fuels treatments to prevent wildfires, protect life, increase the safety of firefighters, and protect property, improvements and infrastructure.
  • Treats 21,000 to 50,000 infested acres of noxious and invasive species over the life of the plan.
  • Conducts sustainable timber harvests, totaling approximately 79 million board feet of timber for sale per decade.

According to the Governor Office of Outdoor Recreation, outdoor recreation employs 71,000 people and drives $7.1 billion in consumer spending, which these RMPs and the BCAs would unquestionably support.

 

Here is what conservation groups and stakeholders think about the RMPs:

 

“We greatly appreciate this commitment from the Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Land Management to conserve world-class hunting opportunities using the multiple-use focused Backcountry Conservation Area management tool,” said President and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership Whit Fosburgh. “From Crooked Creek to Ram Mountain, the Lewistown and Missoula planning areas offer some of the finest big game habitat and hunting in North America, and the BLM has listened to the input of sportsmen and women to strengthen these plans. Throughout his time at Interior, Secretary Bernhardt has remained dedicated to working with our community to see the first Backcountry Conservation Areas established on some of our most-celebrated public lands. We look forward to working with the BLM to see hunting and fishing destinations managed under this unique framework in additional land-use plans, including the forthcoming Eastern Colorado RMP.”

“The Mule Deer Foundation commends the Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Land Management on the Records of Decision for the Lewistown and Missoula Montana Resource Management Plans. As a result of these plans, MDF will be able to more effectively create, restore and protect mule deer populations and habitat on the BLM lands subject to the plans,” said President and CEO of the Mule Deer Foundation Miles Moretti. “Additionally, MDF would like to extend its sincere appreciation to Interior Secretary David Bernhardt for his personal commitment to including Backcountry Conservation Area management tools in the RMP’s. These Backcountry Areas, which are among the first of their kind, will elevate the prioritization of management for wildlife habitat and hunting and fishing access without violating BLM’s multiple use mandate. Doing so will serve to benefit sportsmen and women conservationists and wildlife in a manner that bolsters the economic wellbeing of surrounding communities.”