Tester statement on West Pioneers snowmobile decision

Forest Jobs Bill would designate 130,000 acres in West Pioneers as recreation area

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Senator Jon Tester today released the following statement in response to a decision by the U.S. Forest Service—as part of a lawsuit settlement—to end snowmobile grooming in the West Pioneers Wilderness Study Area in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest:

“There is plenty of room for everyone in our forests, which is why I’m trying to settle the longstanding dispute over wilderness study areas.  The Forest Jobs and Recreation Act would specifically turn the West Pioneers into a 130,000 acre recreation area which would be open to groomed snowmobile trails.  And it would give roughly 25,000 acres of the West Pioneers the protection it finally deserves as one of Montana’s untouched—and quietest—outdoor places.”

The Forest Jobs and Recreation Act releases 129,252 acres of the West Pioneers Wilderness Study Area to be used for recreation as it exists today.

Wilderness Study Areas are not wilderness areas, but many of them are managed as if they were.  Motorized use is not allowed in wilderness areas.

The Forest Service in 1981 recommended removing Wilderness Study Area status from the entire 148,000-acre West Pioneers region.