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1. East Pioneers (approx. 171,000 acres)

The East Pioneer roadless area serves as the “backcountry-backyard” for the Dillon community and surrounding area.  The two highest peaks on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, Tweedy and Torrey Mountains, pierce the sky at over 11,000 feet. Grassland and sagebrush parks intermingle at lower elevations with mahogany-juniper woodlands. As one gains elevation, Douglas fir and lodgepole pine dominate the landscape, giving way to subalpine forests of spruce-fir and finally, beautiful alpine meadows and granite peaks. 
The ecologically diverse East Pioneers is home to a variety of wildlife such as mule deer, elk, moose, wolverine and mountain goat. Trophy-sized trout ply the waters of high alpine lakes. All forms of recreation are popular here from day hiking and car camping to backcountry hunting, angling and challenging rock climbing.  The Forest Service has recommended the core area of the East Pioneers for wilderness designation in their forest plan “Preferred Alternative”. 


 


2. West Pioneers (approx. 236,500 acres)

The West Pioneers are the largest single roadless area in SW Montana. A 148,000-acre core was designated a Wilderness Study Area by the 1977 Montana Wilderness Study Area Act. The high elevation, gently undulating landscape supports forests of lodgepole pine, Engleman spruce and subalpine fir, interspersed with large meadow complexes. This combination of dense forest and open meadow makes the area a haven for its large elk herd.  Local outfitter businesses rely heavily on the wild qualities of this primitive area.
 
The longest-lived stand of lodgepole pine in the world, at over 500 years old, occurs in the Effie Creek drainage and the southernmost known grove of subalpine larch can be found at the head of Osborn Creek.  Normally rare Arctic Grayling are abundant in Odell, Schwinegar and other subalpine lakes.

3. West Big Hole (approx. 89,100 acres in MT)

This breathtaking, 40-mile long mountainscape forms the western rim of the fabled Big Hole Valley. Irrigators in the low country depend upon the intact headwaters of this roadless area to supply them with water throughout the summer. Fluvial Arctic Grayling recovery is likewise reliant on the undeveloped West Big Hole. The area has high concentration of wolverine and mountain goat and is known to be utilized by wolves. Over forty high country lakes dot the area. Sagebrush parks are found in valley bottoms and lodgepole-subalpine forests at mid elevations. Lush, hanging valleys explode with colorful alpine flora during the brief summer season.

From the summit of 10,621-foot Homer Youngs Peak, at least twenty mountain ranges can be identified in Montana and Idaho. The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, (CDNST) traverses the roadless area. Most of Montana’s wildlife species spend at least part of the year here. Hunting, backcountry guiding, camping, walking, cross-country skiing and fishing are popular in this stunning wildland.  The Forest Service has recommended the West Big Hole for wilderness designation since 1979, but has not made this recommendation in the draft forest plan “Preferred Alternative.”

4. Italian Peaks/Beaverhead Mtns (approx. 81,500 acres in MT)

The Italian Peaks area lies in the remote and arid extreme southwest corner of the state, and is the anchor for the much larger Beaverhead Mountains roadless area. Much of the area is blanketed in high elevation grassland with occasional islands of forest on cooler, north facing slopes. As such, it is an elk hunter’s paradise and hunting is the dominant use of the area. Grizzly bears migrating out of Yellowstone Park and the Centennial Valley likely use the Italian Peaks and nearby Lima Peaks roadless areas as corridors to the vast central Idaho wildlands. One of the only populations of bighorn sheep in all of southwest Montana are known to occur here along with mountain goats and wolves. 

The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (CDNST) winds through the Italian Peaks. The Forest Service recommends the Italian Peaks portion of the Beaverhead Mountains roadless area for wilderness designation.

5. Lima Peaks (approx. 44,700 acres in MT)

This area, like the adjacent Italian Peaks area, is mainly an arid, high elevation grassland ecosystem. Its role as a corridor for wildlife is critically important, particularly for grizzly bears, elk and gray wolves. Views from the higher peaks and ridges are stunning.  The Lima Peaks area provides high quality, dispersed recreation for the communities of Dillon, Lima and southern Beaverhead County. Native American pictographs and other sites occur throughout this wild area. The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (CDNST), the nation’s premiere backcountry route, passes through the Lima Peaks area.  

6. North Big Hole

The frozen peaks of the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness gradually give way to open parks and meadows bordered by stands of aspen, spruce, and lodgepole in the North Big Hole country. Streams like Tolan, Riemel, Plimpton, and Bender creeks are loaded with rainbow, cutthroat and brook trout, feeding the Big Hole River. Rich wildlife habitat for moose, wolverine, pine marten, black bear, deer and mountain lion surrounds the stream bottoms. The North Big Hole provides critical elk calving and summering grounds.

The North Big Hole and nearby Sapphires are the biological heartland of the Anaconda-Pintler ecosystem. Without the surrounding wild lands, the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness would be reduced to mere rocks and ice; scenic, but gradually emptied of many large mammal species which thrive in today's roadless tracts.

Recreational use is generally light, chiefly consisting of backcountry hunting, camping, horseback travel, hiking and fishing. The high quality streams that flow from the proposed addition sustain both the ranches and the blue ribbon fisheries of the Big Hole River. Domestic grazing has traditionally occurred in the lower portions of the drainages.

Key areas include: Anderson Mountain (approx. 34,200 acres in MT), Beaver Lakes West/Tolan Creek (approx. 27,800 acres split with Ravalli), Beaver Lakes East (approx. 7,600 acres), Mussigbrod Lake (approx. 37,100 acres)

7. Mount Jefferson (approx. 4,600 acres)

The most distant tributary of the Missouri River, Hell-Roaring Creek, begins its 3,941-mile journey to the sea in this U-shaped roadless canyon wrapped by the Continental Divide. The mountain waters of pour off the Divide to feed myriad lakes and springs in the neighboring Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, home to the nation's largest breeding population of trumpeter swans.

Mt. Jefferson, an integral part of the Centennials wildlands complex, is excellent grizzly, moose and elk habitat. It is part of a key wildlife migration corridor linking the Greater Yellowstone wildlife populations to roadless tracts in the Snowcrest, Gravellies and west along the Continental Divide. The BLM has recommended wilderness for roadless lands adjoining Mt. Jefferson on the west.

The primary traditional uses include hunting, hiking, fishing and horseback travel.

8.  Other Key Wild Areas:

Selway Mountain (approx. 10,500 acres)
Bear Creek/Goat Mountain (approx. 15,200 acres in MT)
Bloody Dick (approx. 55,200)
Cattle Gulch (approx. 11,400 acres, includes BLM)
Black Canyon (approx. 8,000 acres)
Bannock Pass West (approx. 7,200 acres in MT)
Sourdough Peak (approx. 7,100 acres)
Timber Butte (approx. 16,000 acres)
Hidden Pasture (approx. 4,200 acres)
Antelope Basin (approx. 4,900 acres in MT)
Snowcrest Range, Cliff Lake, West Fork Madison (majority in Madison)
Lone Butte (approx. 9,000 acres, shared with Madison)