Wilderness Study Areas Should be Open for Multiple Use

Daines’ legislation is asking Congress to finally make a decision on WSAs around Montana

By Scott Mattheis

In response to a recent letter on Sen. Steve Daines’ legislation to release the Ten Lakes area from WSA status, the letter writer is either extremely misinformed, or not being honest and misleading the public about Daines’ legislation.

Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs) around Montana have been in limbo for over 40 years when Congress passed the Montana Wilderness Study Act (MWSA ) in November of 1977. Those areas were to be studied for five years and then either be recommended for wilderness or be released from the study. Forty years later neither has transpired on any of the WSAs around Montana.

In 1975, two years prior to the WSAs being passed, in a Forest Service document it was stated that an analysis was done on the Ten Lakes area and that analysis recommended that the Ten Lakes area not be a WSA.

Daines’ legislation is asking Congress to finally make a decision on WSAs around Montana. With all the other layers of restrictions that are placed on the Ten Lakes area, the letter writer’s claims of oil and gas development are false and misleading. She is right about one thing, that is the area should remain as it is today and the way it has been for over 50 years; open to all recreation user groups and not just a selected few.

The WSA status is not what fuels the local economy but rather the multiple use recreation that the area offers to visitors. Daines’ legislation and releasing the Ten Lakes area from WSA status would do just that, keeping the area open for multiple use access.

he real political crime was committed over 40 years ago when Lee Metcalf introduced legislation, against Forest Service recommendation, and put the Ten Lakes area into WSA status.

Scott Mattheis

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