Recently I went on a hike around Clearwater Lake. During the hike, I was immediately drawn to the Swan Mountain Range. The sun shined over the ridge, and illuminated the sparkling snow covering the top of the peaks. After the hike, I was surprised to learn that the Swan Range, among many other wild areas, was not federally protected wilderness..

If the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act (BCSA) is passed, it designates 80,000 acres of new wilderness to the Scapegoat, Mission Mountain, and Bob Marshall Wilderness areas. It will protect many species’ habitats, specifically the grizzly bear population, who are struggling to maintain their population. The Swan Range provides crucial resources for grizzlies: moderate temperature, abundant slabrock and natural fruit bearing shrubs.

Additionally, the cutthroat trout population has been declining from habitat loss, overfishing, and hybridization from other non-native fish species. The Westfront Cutthroat Trout are very sensitive to the watersheds and activity around them. The BCSA would protect the headwaters of Monture Creek and help this trout species to make a comeback.

Montanans value wildlife and the wilderness that it provides for them. So with this in mind, I urge Sen. Steve Daines to stand with Montanans and support the BSCA.

– Lyndee Nikkila, Missoula