HHAA has been involved in several endeavors over the years to assure that:
- many public lands remain wild, unroaded, and secure for big game;
- connectivity continues to exist for rare carnivores allowing genetic movement through the landscape, and for big game that must often move between seasonal habitats over distant terrain;
- public land management accommodate the life-cycle habitat needs of wildlife;
- special public land designations are honored over the decades;
- acquisitions on behalf of wildlife habitat and hunter access are conscientiously pursued
Some of these efforts and accomplishments are detailed here.
Big Game Security – the heart of HHAA advocacy
- From an ethical hunter’s standpoint, wildlife habitat, in all its seasonal forms must be maintained, and where necessary, enhanced. Habitat security and fair chase hunting practices ensure that ethical hunting opportunities are the norm across our landscape – now and in the future.
- Big Game Security has been a constant and pervasive concern for HHAA as we attempt to influence public land processes ranging from travel planning, forest management, and recreational developments. This issue can be found at the heart of our work along the Continental Divide, in Inventoried Roadless Areas, and the Elkhorn Wildlife Management Unit.
Big Game Security Issues addressed on the Current Issues Page
Inventories Roadless Areas & Continental Divide
Inventoried Roadless Areas surrounding the Helena area are many. These IRAs provide the heart of remaining wildlife habitat on our landscapes. Whether these IRAs receive Wilderness designation or not, HHAA is working to prevent further fragmentation and preserve their integrity for wildlife into the future. Individual IRAs and HHAA’s involvement in their establishment and maintenance is provided here.
- RECOMMENDATIONS FOR INVENTORIED ROADLESS AREAS-2016
- MAP Important Roadless Corridors for Wildlife
- RARE and RARE II FS-650
- Nevada Mountain IRA
- Lazyman-Black Mountain IRA
- Electric Peak IRA
- Jericho Mountain IRA
- Other IRAs
Elkhorn Wildlife Management Unit
- Since 1939, when 34 elk from Yellowstone National Park released near Elkhorn Creek, the Elkhorn Mountains have captivated the imagination of wildlife enthusiasts. The mountain range’s elk population has been intensively studied and managed. Proposed for wilderness designation, the Elkhorns instead received unique characterization from Congress in 1981 when it was designated the first and only Wildlife Management Unit within the National Forest system. The Elkhorns was the first hunting district in Montana to initiate a “spike only” hunting season in 1987. Since then its mystique has expanded as bull elk are able to achieve older age than nearly all other hunting districts. Much of that history is captured in the documents here.
Wildlife Management Areas
FWP’s Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) are managed with wildlife and wildlife habitat conservation as the foremost concern. WMAs protect important wildlife habitat that might otherwise disappear from the Montana landscape. These wildlife properties provide vital habitat for a variety of wildlife including bear, bighorn sheep, birds, deer, elk, furbearers, moose, mountain goats, wolves and an array of other game and nongame species.
Five Wildlife Management Areas occur within the Helena area including:
- Lake Helena WMA – Ten miles northeast of Helena, the Lake Helena WMA provides excellent waterfowl habitat. For maps, plan, and further details go to MFWP: https://myfwp.mt.gov/fwpPub/landsMgmt/siteDetail.action?lmsId=39753390
- Canyon Creek WMA – This 3,315 acre WMA occurs 28 miles northwest of Helena and is comprised of five land purchases that occurred over more than two decades.Montana Fish and Wildlife Conservation Trust enabled purchase of two of these parcels. For maps, plan, and further details go to MFWP:
- Beartooth WMA For maps and further details go to MFWP: North of Helena about 40 miles is the 31,947 acre Beartooth WMA.
- Canyon Ferry WMA – Thirty miles east of Helena, the 5,129 acre Canyon Ferry WMA encompasses four ponds and more than 300 islands constructed for bird habitat. In addition to being excellent waterfowl and other bird habitat, the WMA sustains white-tailed deer, moose, and habitat for a variety of other wildlife. For maps and further information:
- Spotted Dog WMA Southwest of Helena about 40 miles is the 37,877 acre Spotted Dog WMA. It provides winter habitat for migratory populations of deer and elk. Controversy continues over management of wildlife and livestock grazing on this WMA. For maps, plan, and further details go to MFWP:
Wildlife Connectivity & Continental Divide
The Continental Divide is the string along which the pearls of wild country are strung. The Divide provides threads of connectivity between isolated pockets of habitat along its backbone as well as to outlying roadless or otherwise wild country such as the Elkhorns, Big Belts, and Beartooth WMA via movement corridors.
“… for what species does landscape level connectivity really matter? It matters most for organisms with extremely large home ranges relative to the habitat patch sizes, and relatively low birth rates.”
McKelvey, Schwartz, and Ruggiero
USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station
Some disturbances threatening the Continental Divide are described in correspondence below.
- Why is Connectivity Important?
- Lewis & Clark County Resolution
- Testimony supporting Lewis & Clark County Resolution
- NEWS = Lewis & Clark County Supports CD 6-6-08
- MAP of Wildlife Corridors in Lewis & Clark County – ownership – May 2008
- HCTV Interview Boland-Hellerman with Joslin Dec 4 2008
- Continental Divide Impact List
- Hazard Tree Removal MacPass-HHAA Scoping
- Rimini Road HHAA Comment 12-2010