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MT Beaverhead-Deerlodge Listed as “Treasure” in Trouble

April 22, 2008

Helena, MT – A Montana "treasure" is on a trouble list as of today, Earth Day. The East Pioneers mountains in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest have been named one of ten national "treasures" with problems because of development threats, pollution, or, in Montana's case, illegal off-road vehicle use. Both timber companies and conservation groups have proposed that the East Pioneers be protected.

Mike Matz with the Campaign for America's Wilderness, which issued the report, says proposals like that are important because wild lands all over the country are disappearing fast.

"It sounds unbelievable, but experts tell us that we lose 6,000 acres of open space every single day. That amounts to about four acres a minute."

Matz says people in Montana have been working hard to make sure that the back country of the Beaverhead-Deerlodge forest stays the way it is. He says that means setting up meetings and talking to neighbors about it every day.

"These people are stars, they're really heroes, they go out and they talk to the city councilors, and they talk to the county commissioners. That just percolates its way up to members of Congress."

Other "treasures" at risk include land proposed as wilderness in Colorado, Arizona, Washington and New Mexico. Critics of wilderness designations for public lands say it unfairly limits harvesting of natural resources.

To view the report online, visit www.leaveitwild.org.

Deborah Smith/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - MT