Many of us at Helena Hunters and Anglers Association (HHAA) have been involved in Forest Planning and management on National Forest lands since inception of the Helena Forest Plan in 1986.

HHAA advocates on behalf of wildlife habitat, particularly for elk and deer. We have also systematically collected DNA samples to help identify grizzly bear distribution, and have participated in surveys for lynx, wolverine, and other forest carnivores. We are avid hunters who appreciate the landscape that provides habitat for the wildlife that our community values..

We focus our attention on the public landscape surrounding Helena, raising awareness about wildlife linkage zones and when necessary, challenging governmental decisions that would compromise crucial habitats. No one wants to engage in litigation, but we have done so when the fragile, fragmented corridor along the continental divide at MacDonald Pass was threatened with construction of a military training facility. Our litigation record was not frivolous and we are 100 percent successful to date.

Public participation in carefully crafting and then watch-dogging laws to protect landscape function, water quality, native plants, and wildlife habitats, help guide National Forest management. That opportunity to participate in the future of our landscapes, is highly valued. Which is why HHAA objects to portions of the Tenmile-South Helena Project (TSH).

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The stated purpose and need of the TSH project include watershed management and fire-fighter safety. An extensive recreational trails proposal tagged on to the project does not meet the purpose and need of this project. Such an endeavor must be addressed as a separate project. HHAA endorses management of “fuels” in the Wildland Urban Interface, which involves 4,000 acres within this project. On the other hand, we cannot support heavy machinery or new routes (called Emergency Access Routes), or bicycle trails in the two small Inventoried Roadless Areas that are the last of their kind that provide pristine wildlife habitat and solitude south of Helena.

Much can be done to protect structures and Helena’s watershed without damaging thousands of acres of soil (as acknowledged in the TSH DEIS), clearcutting areas of more than a square mile, or mechanically manipulating our last fragments of Roadless wildland. HHAA believes that limited financial and human resources can be judiciously used to effectively address fire concerns without resorting to pyro-panic and unnecessary damage to the country.

Board of Helena Hunter & Anglers Association: Stan Frasier, President; Gary Ingman, Vice President; Steve Platt, Secretary; Thomas Baumeister, Treasurer; and board members Bill Orsello, Rod Bullis, Charlie McCarthy, Steve McEvoy and Gayle Joslin.

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