LETTER: BHA Supports Gold Creek-Twin Creek BLM Acquisition


April 25, 2024


Lonna Sandau
Bureau of Land Management
Western Montana District
Missoula Field Office
3255 Fort Missoula Rd
[email protected]


On behalf of the Montana Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers and our roughly 2,500 dues-paying members, please consider the below comments outlining our support for the Bureau of Land Management’s Proposed Action to acquire approximately 17,000 acres in the Gold Creek and Twin Creek areas of the Blackfoot River Watershed about 20 miles east of Missoula. MT BHA believes this is an appropriate use of Land and Water Conservation Fund dollars as it will invariably promote and perpetuate responsible management and public access on these much-loved and heavily used public lands.


As the BLM is aware, these lands have a long and complex history – a history inextricably intertwined with both extractive timber resources and public recreation. For decades, in a uniquely Montana partnership, private timber companies and then The Nature Conservancy have allowed the public to hunt, fish, camp, ski, bike, and otherwise enjoy these private lands. This cooperative agreement fostered a tremendous amount of love and use by Missoula citizens – both of which will be preserved by the BLM’s proposed fee acquisition.


These lands are especially important because they border - and provide direct access to - the Rattlesnake National Recreation Area and Wilderness. These existing public lands managed by USFS contain high-value fish and wildlife habitat and some of the finest quiet recreational opportunities in Missoula County. With direct access close to town, the lands proposed to be acquired provide continuity with and access to this much larger landscape, both for humans and for wildlife.


In the case of both Gold Creek and Twin Creeks, protecting the long-term aquatic health of these streams is critical to providing cold, clean water to the native and threatened fish of the Blackfoot river system, an invaluable resource for Missoula County and Montana’s outdoor recreation economy.


The transfer of large swaths of private lands into public hands on the eastern edge of the Rattlesnake range would provide a much-needed guarantee of public access for both hunters and other recreationalists to enjoy this and adjoining parcels of public lands. While the population of Missoula County continues to grow and expand rapidly, the public is relying on our government to continue to provide new and emerging opportunities for public access to public lands commensurate with demand. The acquisition of 17,000 acres of new public lands just outside of town and connected to the much-adored Rattlesnake NRA is exactly what Montana BHA members see as “money well spent.” We thank the BLM for facilitating this, and we would like to also express our deep gratitude to TNC for their long-term vision, stewardship, and willingness to convey these lands to public ownership “at no more than the approved appraised value.”


In closing, we encourage the BLM to move forward with Alternative 2, the Proposed Action using the available funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund.






Graham Coppes, Western Conservation Policy Leader (volunteer)

The Montana Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers




About Graham Coppes

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