This is a follow up letter to the MT BHA letter we sent FWP a couple of months ago.
According to FWP website, Montana WMAs have the following direction…
“FWP’s Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) are managed with wildlife and wildlife habitat conservation as the foremost concern. WMAs protect important wildlife habitat that might otherwise disappear from the Montana landscape. They provide vital habitat for bear, bighorn sheep, birds, deer, elk, furbearers, moose, mountain goats, wolves and an array of other game and nongame wildlife.”
“The primary goal of Montana's Wildlife Management Areas is to maintain vital wildlife habitat for the protection of species and the enjoyment of the public.”
Montana Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers believes there is ample room for improvement of in current management of Spotted Dog WMA to meet the vision emulated in the above statements. To better understand how Spotted Dog is and will be managed in the future, we request responses to the following questions.
Montana Sage Grouse Habitat Conservation Advisory Council:
Montana Backcountry Hunters and Anglers welcomes the opportunity to comment on the proposed Montana Sage Grouse Plan. Our members are grassroots Montana hunters and fishermen who cherish prairie habitats and their wildlife, as well as hunting opportunities within sage habitats on both public and private lands. Our members pursue game, but appreciate all the ecological aspects of wildlife habitats encountered while in the field. It is the context of sage grouse and their habitats that we formulate these comments.
First, we appreciate the efforts for the State of Montana to retain authority to manage sage grouse, and the emphasis on landscape scale habitat needs of these birds.
Jeff Hagener, Director
Montana Department Fish Wildlife and Parks
On October 1, 2013 I had occasion to drive thru and hike parts of Spotted Dog Wildlife Management Area as part of a bowhunt in HD 215. I have attached a couple of photos to document grazing conditions that Montana Chapter Backcountry Hunters and Anglers do not feel are appropriate for a Wildlife Management Area managed by FWP. We also are compelled to discuss the current motorized uses occurring on the WMA.
As background, I spent 32 years with the US Forest Service, both as fisheries biologist as well as District ranger for 10 years managing roughly 3330,000 acres of western Montana public lands. Both as fisheries biologist and District Ranger, I had extensive experience and exposure to management of livestock as well as the effects of poor management.
We fully understand the current grazing lease was imposed on the Department when the purchase of Spotted Dog lands was finalized. However, it is our understanding that this lease is expiring in the next year or two. The upcoming lease expiration will be an excellent opportunity to get it right next time.
As you can see from the photos, the stream channel condition and alteration by years of mismanagement of cattle has had a devastating effect on channel form, stability and function, and fisheries habitat values. Woody riparian plants expected to be on such a stream are largely gone, replaced by bluegrass and noxious weeds. I would expect that any FWP fisheries biologist would collaborate my opinion on the extreme adverse effects of livestock. At one time I expect this stream had dominantly woody plants such as willow and alder and likely extensive beaver activity in the moderate and low gradient reaches of all the streams on the WMA.
The following letter was sent to the Montana Wildlife and Parks Department on behalf of Montana BHA, on September 13, 2013.
Montana Dept Fish Wildlife and Parks
Montana Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers supports Alternative B which would allow bison to utilize public land habitats north and west of Yellowstone National Park. Our organization is composed of several hundred grassroots Montana hunters and anglers which believe wildlife on public lands should be enhanced to provide an enhanced ecosystem with a full complement of native wildlife and allow fair chase hunting when appropriate.
Recently four livestock grazing allotments were retired in these two areas, which reduces the low risk of disease transmission from bison to cattle.
Billings Field Office
5001 Southgate Drive
Billings, Montana 59101
The following are Montana Chapter Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (MT BHA) comments regarding the Billings/Pompeys Pillar Resource Management Plan (RMP.
Montana Chapter Backcountry Hunters and Anglers are Montana sportsmen across the state that depend on management of public lands in Montana to support abundant fish and wildlife populations, as well as provide traditional, non-motorized hunting and fishing opportunities. The content and direction provided by the Billings/Pompeys Pillar Resource Management Plan (RMP) Revision is critical to both the wildlife habitat and hunting opportunities.
We believe Preferred Alternative D fails to provide adequate protection for wildlife habitats, fails to provide for appropriate amount of non-motorized hunting opportunities, and fails to provide adequate protection for areas with outstanding characteristics, including wilderness characteristics. We appreciate the honesty in the DEIS assessment of Alternative D re oil and gas development as “least protection of any Alternative”.
Havre Field Office
3990 Highway 2 West
Havre, MT 59501
The following are Montana Chapter Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (MT BHA) comments regarding the HiLine Resource Management Plan (RMP) Revision.
Montana Chapter Backcountry Hunters and Anglers are Montana sportsmen across the state who depend on management of public lands in Montana to support abundant fish and wildlife populations, as well as provide traditional, non-motorized hunting and fishing opportunities. The content and direction provided by the HiLine Resource Management Plan (RMP) Revision is critical to both the wildlife habitat and hunting opportunities.
We believe Preferred Alternative E fails to provide adequate protection for wildlife habitats, fails to provide for appropriate amount of non-motorized hunting opportunities, and fails to provide adequate protection for areas with outstanding characteristics, including wilderness characteristics and cultural features.
Our organization supports the many features of Alternative B, and requests the Final Plan adopt at least the following direction contained in Alternative B:
-Protect wilderness characteristics on 26 areas totaling 386,000 acres compared with the preferred Alt E which protects only two areas totaling less than 11,000 acres. We request the 26 areas be managed to retain their wilderness characteristics.
-Close oil and gas leasing in 5 areas with wilderness characteristics
The following is a letter that was submitted on behalf of Montana BHA, in opposition to a motorized development proposal on the Marais River.
June 11, 2013
Montana Fish and Game Commission
Helena MT 59620
Dear Chairman Vermillion and Members of the Commission:
Re Marias WMA Access
Montana Chapter Backcountry Hunters is a Montana grassroots hunter and angler organization dedicated to protecting and enhancing big, wild habitat as well as preservation of traditional non-motorized hunting and fishing opportunities.
We are strongly OPPOSED to the proposed acquisition of motorized access to the river bottom of the Marias River WMA.
Our opposition to this acquisition is based on three important premises.
First, there are few large non-motorized, floatable public land river bottom riparian opportunities in Montana. Three experienced Montana outdoorsmen (Mike Penfold, Bill Cunningham and myself) floated through the WMA in the spring of 2012 to evaluate the habitat, as well as enjoy a 14 mile long backcountry float. We felt the experience was a high quality experience that could easily be completed in two days, with a beautiful riverbank campsite one night enroute. Penetrating the heart of the WMA with motorized access would ruin the quality of the float through the property.
The following letter was submitted by MT BHA in regards to the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) Miles City Resource Management Plan (RMP).
Miles City Field Office
111 Garryowen Road
Miles City, Montana 59301
The following are Montana Chapter Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (MT BHA) comments regarding the Miles City Resource Management Plan (RMP) Revision.
Montana Chapter Backcountry Hunters and Anglers are Montana sportsmen across the state that depend on management of public lands in Montana for management of habitat to support both fish and wildlife, as well as traditional non-motorized hunting and fishing opportunities. The Miles City Resource Management Plan (RMP) Revision is critical to both the wildlife habitat and hunting opportunities.
Of the insufficient range of Alternatives presented, our organization supports Alternative B for the following reasons:
-Recognizes the importance of sage grouse habitat on 1.1 million acres and proposes to restore habitat on 260,000 acres.
-Does not allow oil and gas leasing on 39% of these lands.
-Recognizes 22 areas as ACECs on 1,350,000 acres
-Recognizes Devils Creek protection of 5236 acres
-Does not allow grazing on 210,000 acres
The following is an introduction to the full scope of comments that Montana Backcountry Hunters & Anglers recently submitted to the Helena National Forest in partnership with the Montana Wildlife Federation in regards to the Blackfoot Travel Management Plan & Big Game Security Amendment.
Dear Forest Supervisor Kevin Riordan:
The following comments are submitted in response to the Helena National Forest proposed Big Game Security Amendment (Big Game Standard 4a). We request these comments be entered into the public record, and each of our comments be individually analyzed and addressed in the subsequent analysis and NEPA process.
Montana Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (MT BHA)and Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (BHA), and Montana Wildlife Federation (MWF) offer the following comments to implementation of an unvalidated and scientifically unsupported proposed amendment to Helena Forest Plan Standard 4a for Big Game Security (Appendix F). The proposal would potentially damage big game security on Elk Herd Units that do entirely fall within the Administrative Boundary of the Helena National Forest by allowing degradation of forest cover well below 30% of an EMU. In addition, all necessary criteria of the model that is being proposed to amend Standard 4a are not described in the proposed amendment and therefore are not assured of being applied...