Proposed Changes to Wilderness Designations
Change the designation of the Highlands area
- The Issue: The Highlands area -- near Butte -- is currently used to train the military, which requires occasional helicopter landings. The area also has buried waterlines running through it and transmission towers in it. Additionally, there are two patented mining claims in the area.
- The Change: Sen. Tester will propose changing all or part of the Highlands land designation in his bill from wilderness to a Special Management Area. This will allow for primitive protection of the area but will leave flexibility for access to transmission towers, occasional landings for soldiers in training, for the community of Butte to maintain water pipes and possibly to protect existing mining claims.
- Where the idea came from: Sen. Tester suggested this change after hearing concerns from Wilderness Watch, the Forest Service, Butte-Silver Bow Public Works Dept, small mining companies and individual Montanans.
Prohibit motorized access to Tendoy Lake
- The Issue: As written, the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act would allow motorized access to Tendoy Lake, which is within proposed East Pioneers Wilderness Area. However, the Forest Service reports resource damage at the site. Making an exception for motorized use on one trail inside a wilderness area would make management of the entire area difficult.
- The Change: Sen. Tester will propose removing the boundary adjustment so that the trail is included in the designated wilderness. Many motorized users say the trail is in poor condition and the Forest Service says it is rarely used.
- Where the idea came from: Dozens of individual Montanans, U.S. Forest Service, Wilderness Watch and Greater Yellowstone Coalition.
Adjust the boundary in the proposed Centennial Wilderness Area
- The Issue: The Continental Divide Trail is just outside the proposed wilderness except for a few locations, where it overlaps by just hundreds of yards.
- The Change: Sen. Tester will draw the wilderness boundary so that the Continental Divide trail is consistently adjacent to, but not in, the wilderness area.
- Where the idea came from: Montana Mountain Bike Alliance.
Clarify recreational shooting
- The Issue: The way the language in the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act is currently drafted, some people believe it implies the State of Montana has the authority to manage recreational shooting on federal land.
- The Change: Sen. Tester will propose removing the words, 'and recreational shooting' to clarify the jurisdiction of regulation for this activity.
- Where the idea came from: Wilderness Watch, BLM.
Clarify wilderness exceptions
- The Issue: Some people read the language of the wilderness exceptions to provide unlimited motorized use under the guise of maintenance of water infrastructure.
- The Change: Sen. Tester will propose including clarifying language to ensure that water infrastructure can be accessed "for the purpose of inspection and maintenance."
- Where the idea came from: Wilderness advocates, U.S. Forest Service.