The Billings Outpost

Fish, Wildlife Commission backs U.S. Heritage Act

By DEBORAH COURSON SMITH - Big Sky Connection

HELENA – Support for the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act was unanimous last Thursday at the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission. 

The commission voted to endorse the act, noting that the area offers some of the best wildlife habitat in Montana, as well as being home to working cattle ranches. 

Nick Gevock, conservation director at the Montana Wildlife Federation, says his group brought the resolution to the commission.

“This unanimous support speaks to the tremendous wildlife values of the Rocky Mountain Front,” Gevock says. “It also speaks to the bipartisan effort on this bill.”

The act would add new acres to the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area and designate more than 200,000 acres along the Front as a conservation management area, keeping it open for existing motorized access and grazing.

Gevock says the Front has long been known for high-quality backcountry hunting. 

It’s home to elk, bighorn sheep, grizzly bears, mule deer and white-tailed deer - as well as non-game mammals and songbirds.

“In a state that values wildlife as much as Montana, our Fish and Wildlife Commission recognized that this is the right thing to do for wildlife and our hunting heritage,” he points out.

Another section of the act that Gevock says commissioners found attractive was a focus on limiting the spread of noxious weeds, which aren’t good for wildlife or cattle. 

U.S. Sen. Max Baucus of Montana first introduced the bill. Now it is sponsored by Sens. John Walsh and Jon Tester.

Copyright 2012 Wild Raspberry Inc.

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