The Government Mountain area is vital mountain goat habitat and provides important winter range for elk migrating from the Scotchman's Peak proposed wilderness. Berray Mountain, although not contiguous with the Cabinet Wilderness, provides critical bighorn sheep winter range and is an important linkage zone for sheep, grizzlies and elk between Scotchman's Peak and the Cabinet wilderness.
Portions of the Cabinet additions have been included in nine bills introduced or passed by Congress.
Key areas include: McKay Creek (approx. 15,378 acres), Chippewa (approx. 1,261 acres), Government Mountain (approx. 10,084 acres), Berray Mountain (approx. 9,136 acres)
2. Scotchman Peaks (approximately 54,433 acres in MT)
Jutting above the Lower Clark Fork Valley, the jagged peaks and glacial cirques of Scotchman Peaks fit Montana's most rugged image of wilderness. But Scotchman Peaks also includes ancient cedar, hemlock and white pine forests in the Ross Creek and Spar Lake areas, pristine alpine lakes, miles of blue-ribbon trout streams and critical habitat for mountain goats, elk, bighorn sheep, mule deer and grizzly habitat.
In the southeastern corner, Pellick Ridge and its north and south drainages are an important corridor for ungulates and grizzly bears. Once grizzly populations have recovered in the Cabinet/Yaak and Selkirk ecosystems, Scotchman Peaks will provide a critical linkage zone between these two areas. Scotchman Peaks has been included in nine bills introduced or passed by Congress.
Rising out of the Vermillion and Clark Fork drainages, Galena and Cataract form the rugged backbone of the Cabinet Mountain Range. Immediately south of the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness, these areas provide a critical wildlife link to the Cube Iron-Mt. Silcox proposed wilderness to the south and the Bitterroot and Coeur d'Alene ranges to the west. Both areas have resident elk herds with important big-game winter range on south-facing slopes. Galena contains excellent mule deer habitat, and Cataract has native cutthroat trout in lower elevation streams. Both areas are popular walk-in hunting areas.
Galena and Cataract have been identified as crucial habitat for the recovery of the grizzly bear. Protection of Galena and Cataract provides a critical linkage zone between the Cabinet-Yaak and Selway-Bitterroot ecosystem. Like the rest of the Cabinet ecosystem, abundant rainfall has contributed to diverse and productive plant communities found nowhere else in Montana. Elevation gradients range from 2,500 to 7,000 feet, providing an abundance of habitat types.
Key areas include: Galena Creek (approx. 19,300 acres), Cataract (approx. 25,440 acres), Allen Peak (portion of approx. 29,587 acres in Sanders County)
4. Cube Iron (approximately 53,500 acres)
Cube Iron-Mt. Silcox, just north of Thompson Falls, marks the southern terminus of the Cabinet Mountains. The drainages of Cube Iron-Mt. Silcox climb steeply through old growth forest stands in the lower reaches of Squaw, Thorne, Winniemuck, Honeymoon and Big Spruce Creek to rugged peaks and glaciated basins that hold 15 glistening mountain lakes.
Cube Iron-Mt. Silcox contains ancient forests of Mountain and Western hemlock, Spruce, Red Cedar, Douglas fir, Ponderosa and White pine. Moose, elk, mountain goat, pileated woodpeckers, thrush, ouzel, owls, pine marten, mountain lion and black bear are common in the rich habitat of Cube Iron. Wolverine frequent the high country and dense timber, while bighorn sheep inhabit the steep, cliff-lined slopes above the Thompson River.
This popular wildland includes more than 60 miles of backcountry trails, and hiking, hunting, camping, wildlife observation, and berry-picking are the most popular traditional uses of this area. Protection of Cube Iron-Mt. Silcox will also protect backcountry resources and the municipal water supply for Thompson Falls. All or portions of this proposal have been included in numerous wilderness bills introduced in Congress.
5. Trout Creek (approx. 30,869 acres in MT)
Rugged, steep and heavily forested, Trout Creek provides some of the most productive wildlife habitat in Montana. Among neighboring sportsmen in the lower Clark Fork Valley it is known as the "elk factory." The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks has recommended maintenance of the area's roadless quality. Lush riparian areas, blue-ribbon streams and three distinct forest ecosystem types - Douglas fir forest, cedar hemlock pine forest and Western spruce-fir forest - provide habitat for a full complement of fish, bird and mammal species.
Scores of hunters flock to Trout Creek every fall, and several outfitting businesses use the area. The popular 22-mile Trout Creek Loop National Recreation Trail is popular with hikers. Annually, Trout Creek registers thousands of recreation visitor days of wilderness recreation. Hunting in Trout Creek provides a significant boost to the Sanders County economy every year, not including indirect economic benefits. Trout Creek has been included in numerous wilderness bills.
6. Mount Bushnell (approx. 46,500 acres, half in Sanders County)
Mt. Bushnell, five miles southwest of Thompson Falls, forms the core of the highly productive Lower Clark Fork Valley elk population. The Montana Elk Management Plan has recommended protection of this roadless area. The area is particularly popular with local sportsmen.
The chief big-game habitat values of Mt. Bushnell are abundant security, highly productive summer range, key winter range, excellent calving grounds and major migratory routes. Forest Service officials have referred to Bushnell as one of the last and best unroaded elk security areas in the region.
Although unspectacular as craggy scenery or alpine recreation, Mt. Bushnell is critical for a host of wildlife species, including lynx, fisher, mule deer and black bear. Lush riparian areas provide important habitat for the tailed frog and Coeur d'Alene salamander. The area is also a critical connecting corridor for grizzly bears between the Cabinets and Bitterroot Range.
7. Other Key Wild Areas
Cherry Peak (approx. 38,500 acres, majority in Sanders County)
Mosquito Peak (approx. 5,400 acres)
Blossom Lakes (approx. 8,600 acres in MT)
Maple Peak (approx. 14,400 acres in MT)
McNeeley (approx. 6,653 acres)
Devil’s Gap (approx. 5,350 acres)
Huckleberry Mountain (approx. 8,960 acres)
Lone Cliff Smeads (approx. 5,114 acres)
Lone Cliff West (approx. 5,311 acres)
East and West Forks of Elk Creek (approx. 12,000 acres in MT)
Baldy Mountain (approx. 6,700 acres)
McGregor-Thompson (approx. 12,700 acres)
Big Hole Peak (approx. 19,300 acres)