Southwest Montana is a place historic in both is economic contributions to the state and its magnificent landscapes. It is home to world famous trout streams like Rock Creek, the Big Hole, and the Madison Rivers. It claims pristine backcountry like Lima Peaks, the Centennials, and Garfield Mountain.
The people and economy of Southwest Montana are just as unique. With abundant forest resources, industry ranges from outfitters to saw mills. The Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forests, the largest in the largest in the state at 3.2 million acres, provides a variety of recreation uses.
With a variety of uses, there is great demand on the land and great need for wise management. However, management has been in gridlock for decades. Conflict between loggers and conservationists, motorized users and quiet recreationists has stalemated management. After years of no lasting protection and closing mills, local mill workers, conservationists, hunters, mountain bikers, and anglers got together to move past the gridlock.
For the last three years, the Beaverhead-Deerlodge Partnership has been working to solve forest management problems. The group decided that in order for progress to be made, each group had to work together and compromise. After sitting down at hundreds of meetings across SW MT, presenting to various groups, and talking to the people who live here, the Beaverhead-Deerlodge Partnership found that most people wanted the same things: access to their recreation opportunities and good jobs.
From these discussions, the Partnership created a proposal that included timber harvesting, designating new wilderness, and special areas for mountain biking and motorized recreation.
Then, on July 17, 2009, the proposal from the Beaverhead-Deerlodge Partnership became part of Senator Jon Tester’s Forests Jobs and Recreation Act.