Montana Public Radio

Montana Wilderness Association

As the Custer Gallatin National Forest finalizes a plan that will guide management decisions for the next 15 to 30 years, a coalition of conservation and outdoor user groups is making one last push for that plan to add additional protection to an area called Cowboy Heaven.

Northeast of Ennis, a local outfitter leads several people on horseback up a steep, rocky trail. They pass through sagebrush country, which fades into forests speckled with snowberries and 300 year old Douglas firs.

Update: An earlier version of this story stated Rob Gregoire won, rather than settled the court case in 2017. YPR regrets the error.

A group of unlikely bedfellows is trying to drum up support for a plan it says will reduce conflict in the Crazy Mountains and improve access to public land in southwest Montana. The plan includes land swaps and a new trail.


A federal order that lumps electric bicycles in with traditional bikes has sparked concern among environmental advocacy groups who say that e-bikes could hurt trail traffic and ecology in the Pryor Mountains.

About 200 people attended the festival's business panel at the Wilma Theater in Missoula
Eric Whitney

Groups promoting the economic value of public lands in Montana held their third annual Last Best Outdoors Fest event to get their message out in Missoula yesterday.

The event brought bands, beer and information booths to Caras Park downtown, and a panel of business leaders to speak at the Wilma theatre.

"We aren’t just a place you can come visit, but we’re a place that you can come make a living," said Evan Tipton, who was on the panel.

CORRECTION: The orginal draft of this story said this bill would remove wilderness study designation to some public lands. The bill does not address wilderness study areas. 

For the third time in three years, Sen. Jon Tester held a rally for a bill he’s sponsoring to expand federally designated wilderness in northwest Montana, and allow some snowmobile and mountain bike use on public lands in the area.

About two hundred people packed the Kettlehouse Brewing taproom in Bonner over the noon hour to hear Tester speak at an event hosted by the Montana Wilderness Association. They’re all hoping this is the year the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act passes.


A conservation group says the Bureau of Land Management is abandoning an option that would preserve 200,000 acres in Central Montana with wilderness characteristics.

The BLM says that’s not true, and that its new draft management plan for its lands in the area will strike a balance between development and other uses.

U.S. Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen vows the agency will meet with mountain biking groups who want to regain access to two wilderness study areas in the Bitterroot National Forest.
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U.S. Sen. Steve Daines continues to pressure the U.S. Forest Service to reconsider proposed mountain bike closures in two Montana wilderness sudy areas.

U.S. Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen vows the agency will meet with mountain biking groups who want to regain access to two wilderness study areas in the Bitterroot National Forest.

A coalition of wildlife, conservation and outdoor recreation business groups in Montana has announced it’s launching a survey to determine support and strategies to fund conservation and access projects.

A bird's eye view of the southern reaches of the Bob Marshall Wilderness.
Josh Burnham / Montana Public Radio


A coalition of wildlife, conservation and outdoor recreation business groups has launched an effort to find ways to fund conservation and maintenance projects on public lands.

Eric Melson says the Montana Outdoor Heritage Project is trying to hear from 10,000 Montanans on what they value about the state’s public lands and outdoor recreation, and how those values should be funded.

Courtesy Flathead National Forest

Revisions to the plan that dictates land, recreation and wildlife management on the 2.4 million acre Flathead National Forest have now gone into effect. Interest groups are split on what the plan means for the forest’s future.

The 2018 Flathead National Forest Plan was signed on December 27 during the partial federal government shutdown. It went into effect last Saturday following a mandatory 30-day waiting period.

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