Resolution 06-10: Request the United States Congress to Remove Hidden Pasture Creek Wilderness Study Areas from Wilderness Study Designation

  • Area Originating From: Area 6
  • General Session Action: Passed
  • Submitted by: Beaverhead Conservation District

WHEREAS, The Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) wilderness study recommendations to Congress from the President of the United States, in January of 1993, was to exclude the Hidden Pasture Creek Wilderness Study Area (WSA #MT-076-022) located west of Dell, Montana, total acreage 15,509; and

WHEREAS, this area has been basically set aside as wilderness as a result of inaction for over 13 years making it difficult, and in some cases impossible, for the residents of Southwest Montana to conduct business in this area; and

WHEREAS, the southern boundary of this WSA is the county road which has historically been, and remains, the principle transportation route for those living and using the Big Sheep Basin for ranching and recreation and by the BLM, the Department of State Lands, and the United States Forest Service; and

WHEREAS, the local electric cooperative (Vigilante Electric), in the process of providing electrical service to the area, has their power line criss-cross over the road because the canyon is narrow, crooked and very steep, thereby putting portions of the line in the WSA which subjects the utility to all the WSA restrictions thereby limiting the access maintenance, repair or improvement to this line; and

WHEREAS, the WSA designation precludes the Beaverhead County Road Department from addressing transportation safety issues such as being able to widen the road to prevent head-on and side-swipe accidents which have involved travelers unfamiliar with the road, area ranchers and even the Lima School bus, which travels this gravel road twice daily when school is in session; and

WHEREAS, the only suitable, angular-shaped rock that meets NRCS standards in the southern half of Beaverhead County that is accessible to larger dump trucks and machinery is located immediately along the north side of the county road in the WSA; and

WHEREAS, one local rancher’s center pivot crosses approximately 2.5 acres of land included in the WSA while at the same time 8 acres of his deeded land is within the WSA, causing said landowner, at great expense (after the fact), to install 2 barricades and an auto-reverse option to keep the pivot from crossing that portion of the WSA because the BLM will not trade the two parcels or permit the landowner an agricultural use lease even though said landowner is allowed to travel through the area on an improved gravel road and flood irrigate said area; and

WHEREAS, the east boundary of the WSA is within 5 miles of the town of Dell, Interstate 15, Highway 91, the Union Pacific Railroad track, and has historically, since the early 1900’s, been used for logging, coal mining and therefore has numerous old roads as well as the rock quarry that has been utilized by residents, local contractors, the Beaverhead County Road Department and the Union Pacific Railroad for decades; and

WHEREAS, area residents, the local telephone and electrical utilities, and the commissioners of Beaverhead County have written letters and sent petitions to our State Senators and Representatives asking that the Hidden Pasture WSA be released from further wilderness consideration, as per BLM recommendations;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Montana Association of Conservation Districts be in favor of and pledge its support for these groups requesting, during the next session of the United States Congress, that the Hidden Pasture Creek WSA number MT-076-022 be removed from any further wilderness study designation.