Clean | Green | Sustainable

Montana Wilderness: Wuerthner’s Modest Proposal

Posted by Matthew Koehler on March 24, 2009

Ecologist and author George Wuerthner has hit the stump again over at New West with what can best be described as a modest proposal for a statewide Montana Wilderness bill. Make sure not to miss Wuerthner’s detailed descriptions of nine different wilderness regions in Montana, starting with Northwest Montana and moving all the way to the Great Plains. After checking out each of these regions you’ll see why Wuerthner’s claim that “Montana has some of the best spectacular unprotected wildlands left in the lower 48 states” is no exaggeration.

While Wuerthner has been a strong advocate for passage of the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (NREPA), he claims that “Congress may not be ready for the best,” in no small part because “some pro-wilderness groups do not support NREPA.”  Wuerthner correctly points out that “if NREPA were enthusiastically endorsed and actively promoted by the entire environmental community, it could be enacted.” Remember that next time you run into someone associated with the Montana Wilderness Association!

And for those folks who believe “Montana already has too much stinking Wilderness,” Wuerthner is happy to point out that “California has 138 wilderness areas, covering than 14.3 million acres–more than 14 percent of the state. By contrast, Montana only has 15 wildernesses covering 3.4 million acres, or slightly less than 3.7% percent of the state.”

Wuerthner’s modest proposal for Montana Wilderness comes at just the right time, as the drumbeat for a statewide Wilderness bill is growing stronger.  Unfortunately some of the statewide Wilderness proposals being floated behind closed doors (and out of the public’s view) by our congressional delegation, the timber industry and some well-funded/politically-connected conservation groups leaves much to be desired.

That’s why, in light of NREPA’s tough road in Congress, Wilderness advocates would be wise to follow the path that Wuerthner has brilliantly laid out.

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