Going Wild for Wildlife

By Beacon Staff

Nearly 40 years before the Wilderness Act passed legislation, a rancher from Fortine envisioned a wilderness half the size of Glacier Park at the north end of the Whitefish Range. Winton Weydemeyer’s dream never came to pass.

Today, the Montana Wilderness Association has proposed protection for a smaller parcel of Weydemeyer’s vision—171,000 acres encompassing the Ten Lakes Wilderness Study Area and environs. But it’s miles from heading to Congress as a bill. “We are not currently pushing a bill for the Winton Weydemeyer Wilderness,” clarifies Sarah Lundstrum, wilderness campaign director for Northwest Montana. “People don’t want to lose their ability to go out to recreate the way they always have. But we are engaged with the Forest Service on the Galton Project–a good way to restart those conversations.”

Lundstrum has been part of a stakeholders group working with Fortine Ranger District as the Forest Service develops the Galton Project to look at recreation, vegetation, and travel in the Galton Range and Ten Lakes Scenic Area as well as surrounding Grave Creek, Therriault Lakes, Dickey Lake, Marston, and Ant Flat. It could include travel planning for snowmobiles, new trail systems, rehabilitation for white bark pine, and protection for communities from wild land fire.

Meanwhile, the Flathead-Kootenai Chapter of the Montana Wilderness Association hosts its annual fundraiser this Friday. Moose, arctic grayling, and prides of lions take to the big screen in the Wildlife Film Festival. The festival features “Moose: Titans of the North” and selected shorts including a documentary about the Big Hole Valley and a children’s film that investigates animals living in bunches. “All the money raised is spent within this community,” says Lundstrum, pointing to popular programs like the wilderness walk and snowshoe explorations.

“Wildlife is one of the things we all like,” says Lundstrum. “The film festival is about celebrating that and the places that we all love.”

Wildlife Film Festival
Sept, 26, 7 p.m.
O’Shaughnessy Center
$10 adults, $5 children under 12