Montana Wilderness Association supports the work of the Eastern Wildlands Chapter and the Pryors Coalition, and we offer our endorsement of the Citizens’ Vision for the Pryor Mountains of Montana.
The Pryor Mountains form a unique and wonderful landscape, and they deserve the effort you have given for their protection. You have outlined concrete steps the Forest Service can take to alleviate the growing threat to the Pryors from excessive motorized use.
The Forest Service should manage the Pryors to give everyone a chance to enjoy them in their own way: by riding horses, hiking, viewing wildlife, camping, hunting, discovering rare wildflowers, and also by riding ATVs and motorbikes. The Pryors are big enough for everyone, and we all have a place amidst their expansive beauty.
The Pryors Coalition is right also in its approach to road designation. The Forest Service should indeed keep large areas of the Pryors open specifically for non-motorized use. As more and more people move to Southeastern Montana, these areas of refuge from the hustle and bustle of the city will become rarer and more precious. We need the foresight to keep places like Lost Water Canyon, Punch Bowl, and Bear Canyon as special as they are today. The Pryors Coalition proposal, if adopted by the Forest Service, will accomplish this — while still providing over 75 miles of routes for motorized recreation. Clearly, the Coalition has pulled off an incredible balancing act.
We are heartened to see the diverse interests represented by so many groups coming together to support this “Vision,” from the Back Country Horsemen of Montana to The Cloud Foundation. We are pleased to add our organization’s name to the list. We applaud the Pryors Coalition’s efforts to reach out to organizations with such divergent viewpoints, and we hope that new organizations will continue to join.
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to voice our enthusiastic support for Eastern Wildlands and the good work of those striving to protect the Pryors.
Submitted by Kayhan Ostovar, President; Robert Lubbers, Jennifer Lyman
The Audubon Society supports conservation of natural habitat for bird species within the Pryor Mountain system. Many bird species nest in the Pryor Mountains during the summer and evidence has shown that excessive noise, causes nesting birds to fly off their nests, consequently lowering the rate of hatching success. The Audubon Society is currently conducting a census of various habitats of the Pryor Mountains in order to determine what areas, if any, may fit the Audubon’s formal criteria for designation as Important Bird Areas (IBAs). One of our main study areas is the entire Bear Canyon drainage because it contains a rich variety of habitats including subalpine meadows and coniferous forests, mixed conifer and juniper, canyon walls, cottonwood riparian, and sagebrush. We are particularly concerned about the bird species listed below because of their rarity and observed changes in their nesting behavior.
The Audubon Society supports the inclusion of buffer zones around areas of each of the different plant communities in the Pryors so that birdlife will be protected from noise disturbance during their summer nesting season.
Birds of special interest in the Pryor Mountains:
Sage Thrasher — sage brush and mixed sagebrush/forest habitat
Brewer’s Sparrow — nests in undisturbed sagebrush habitat
Blue-gray gnatcatcher — nests in dry areas
Prairie falcon — nests on canyon walls; shooting causes them to fly off their nests
Black-throated gray warbler — wood warbler found but not nesting anymore
Mountain blue bird — nests in forests
Mountain chickadee — nests in forests
Lewis’s woodpecker — coniferous forests
Green-tailed towhee — shrub and sagebrush areas
To participate in preserving the scenic, historic, archeological, scientific and recreational resources of Montana’s parks, rivers, historic sites and trails, and to provide for their use and enjoyment, thereby contributing to the cultural, recreational and economic life of the people.
About the Pryors
Our Montana, Inc. believes the Pryor Mountains to be one of the most unique public resource areas in Montana. From the desert canyon landscapes to the well watered meadows of the sub alpine mountain tops, the Pryors reach out to a variety of recreationists. The conservation of the Pryors faces many challenges. Public uses are rapidly increasing. With that has come vandalism to important cultural sites, destructive vehicle use off of roads and trails, over hunting of wildlife and controversy on how these public resources should be conserved.
Our Montana, Inc. is dedicated to working with all users and the public land management agencies to develop the necessary conservation strategies and management capability to assure the Pryor Mountains are an enduring quality public resource.