Josh Elliott

Senator Daines introduced S. 2216, the “Montana Sportsmen Conservation Act.” If successful, the Act would remove wilderness study area (WSA) protections from three of Montana’s WSAs totaling over 100,000 acres.

The Montana Wilderness Study Act designated these WSAs and makes clear that “the [WSAs] designated by this Act shall, until Congress determines otherwise, be administered … to maintain their presently existing wilderness character…”

Senator Daines is leading an attempt to get Congress to “determine otherwise” even though only 6% of Montanans support his attempts to remove these WSA designations and the protections that come with them.

Game and non-game wildlife species benefit significantly from these protections as roads and other forms of development that would negatively impact wildlife populations are kept out of WSAs.

The bill’s title is perplexing, as the Act is counter to anything that can reasonably be considered conservation and would negatively impact Montana sportsmen (a term which excludes women who hunt, but that’s a topic for another day).

I ask that Senator Daines listen to his constituents, withdraw this bill from consideration, and commit to an open, collaborative, and science-informed process for evaluating the need to change management prescriptions in these areas.