BLM releases Resource Management Plans for Lewistown, Missoula
BILLINGS, Mont. – The Bureau of Land Management today approved revised Resource Management Plans that will guide agency land management decisions on more than 800,000 acres of public lands and nearly 1.4 million acres of subsurface mineral estate in western and central Montana for the next 20 years. The revised plans are responsive to public input and reflect changing resource conditions as well as new issues and policies that have arisen since the previous management documents were completed in the 1980s and early 1990s.
The two Records of Decision published today in the Federal Register cover the Resource Management Plans (RMPs) and associated Final Environmental Impact Statement (EISs) for the Lewistown and Missoula field offices. The Lewistown RMP/EIS encompasses 651,200 acres of BLM-administered surface and 1.2 million acres of federal mineral estate in central Montana. The Missoula RMP/EIS addresses the management of about 163,000 surface acres and 268,000 acres of federal mineral interests in northwestern Montana.
“Public lands in Montana support thousands of jobs and contribute to local communities, while sustaining the wildlife and outdoor recreation opportunities that make living in the West so special. These management plans represent a significant step forward in our efforts to protect and enhance public lands for the benefit of current and future generations of Americans,” said William Perry Pendley, the BLM’s Deputy Director for Policy and Programs.
Backcountry Conservation Areas (BCAs) promote public access to support wildlife-dependent recreation and hunting opportunities and facilitate the long-term maintenance of big game wildlife populations, while also permitting other activities consistent with the BLM’s multiple use, sustained yield mission. The Lewistown RMP has two BCAs: the Arrow Creek BCA which is 12,800 acres, and the Crooked Creek BCA which covers 93,400 acres. The Missoula RMP contains three BCAs: the 6,100-acre Hoodoos BCA, the 4,539-acre Ram Mountain BCA and the 2,365-acre Wales BCA.
“We greatly appreciate this commitment from the Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Land Management to conserve world-class hunting opportunities using the multiple-use focused Backcountry Conservation Area management tool,” said President and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership Whit Fosburgh. “From Crooked Creek to Ram Mountain, the Lewistown and Missoula planning areas offer some of the finest big game habitat and hunting in North America, and the BLM has listened to the input of sportsmen and women to strengthen these plans. Throughout his time at Interior, Secretary Bernhardt has remained dedicated to working with our community to see the first Backcountry Conservation Areas established on some of our most-celebrated public lands. We look forward to working with the BLM to see hunting and fishing destinations managed under this unique framework in additional land-use plans, including the forthcoming Eastern Colorado RMP.”
Designation of these BCAs aligns with Secretary’s Order 3356: Hunting, Fishing, Recreational Shooting and Wildlife Conservation Opportunities and Coordination with States, Tribes and Territories, which directs Department of the Interior bureaus to incorporate analysis of the impacts of Federal land and water management actions on hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting access in planning and decision-making; as well as Secretary’s Order 3362: Improving Habitat Quality in Western Big Game Winter Range and Migration Corridors.
“The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation commends Secretary Bernhardt and the BLM for using available planning tools to increase access for sportsmen and women and provide quality fish and wildlife habitat on multiple-use public lands,” said Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation President Jeff Crane. “The establishment of Backcountry Conservation Areas in the Lewistown RMP represents targeted resource management to meet the needs of wildlife and America’s hunters, anglers, and recreational shooters as they enjoy our nation’s treasured public lands.”
“The Mule Deer Foundation commends the Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Land Management on the Records of Decision for the Lewistown and Missoula Montana Resource Management Plans. As a result of these plans, MDF will be able to more effectively create, restore and protect mule deer populations and habitat on the BLM lands subject to the plans,” said President and CEO of the Mule Deer Foundation Miles Moretti. “Additionally, MDF would like to extend its sincere appreciation to Interior Secretary David Bernhardt for his personal commitment to including Backcountry Conservation Area management tools in the RMP’s. These Backcountry Areas, which are among the first of their kind, will elevate the prioritization of management for wildlife habitat and hunting and fishing access without violating BLM's multiple use mandate. Doing so will serve to benefit sportsmen and women conservationists and wildlife in a manner that bolsters the economic wellbeing of surrounding communities.”
“We appreciate the professionalism and inclusiveness process implemented by the BLM in drafting their Resource Management Plans and their outreach through public meetings which included representatives of their various staff,” said Gordy Sanders, Resource Manager of Pyramid Mountain Lumber, Inc. in Seeley Lake. “As a stakeholder, we are pleased with both RMPs’ focus on active management while recognizing other public values.”
The final Lewistown and Missoula RMP documents, as well as the BLM’s Records of Decision, will be published in the Federal Register in the near future. BLM will announce the availability of these documents, as well as where to access them, when a publication date is finalized.
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in the 11 Western states and Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. In fiscal year 2018, the diverse activities authorized on BLM-managed lands generated $105 billion in economic output across the country. This economic activity supported 471,000 jobs and contributed substantial revenue to the U.S. Treasury and state governments, mostly through royalties on minerals.