Thanks for your excellent story about the efforts of many dedicated folks to protect the Great Burn (see "Guarding the Burn," July 14, 2011). It is indeed a remarkable place, and I consider myself lucky to have visited a few spots high within this proposed wilderness.
Unfortunately, parts of the Great Burn and 36 million acres of similarly protected areas in Montana and the nation are coming under assault in the U.S. House of Representatives. The latest attack on wild places and wildlife comes in the form of H.R. 1581, a bill cosponsored by Rep. Denny Rehberg and supported by a wealthy, trophy-hunting, wannabe sportsmen group known as the Safari Club.
This bill would remove protection for the millions of acres of roadless areas and Wilderness Study Areas on public land, exposing them to road development that would harm some of our best fish and wildlife habitat, clean water strongholds, and supreme recreational areas where thousands of Montanans and visitors hunt, fish and recreate. More than five million acres in Montana alone that are currently protected under the Roadless Area Conservation Rule would lose protection if H.R. 1581 should pass.
As indicated in the Independent article, these backcountry areas like the Great Burn provide some of the most secure habitat for big game, the cleanest, coldest water for native trout, and other great habitat for rare and iconic Montana wildlife species such as fisher, wolverine, lynx, bull trout and grizzly bear.
As a Montana resident, backcountry traveler, hunter and angler, I am offended that Rehberg and a group that purports to represent sportsmen would support efforts to open such important wildlife habitat to road building and development.