US Forest Service plan to protect Montana’s Rocky Mountain front

US Forest Service Chief Mike Dombeck on February 3, 1999 unveiled a plan to withdraw 429,000 acres of National Forest System lands in Montana's Rocky Mountain Front from hard rock mining for at least two years.


The plan is designed to ensure preservation of the area for its Native American inhabitants, protect threatened and endangered species, and preserve the area’s outstanding scenic values. Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front is located on the Helena, and Lewis and Clark National Forests.

“Many areas are simply not appropriate for certain activities, such as hard rock mining,” said Dombeck. “For many years, Congress has been unable to reach consensus on amending the 1872 Mining Law. Their inaction does not, however, diminish our responsibility to use the best science to protect the most scenic, the most diverse, the most special places.”

Dombeck also reaffirmed the Forest Service’s commitment for maintaining national forests as the nation’s major source of clean water, by:

  Maintaining and restoring watershed health, including stream flow, to provide for a wide variety of benefits, to provide clean water and healthy ecosystems.

  Assess current conditions to make informed decisions about future management activities, including protection and restoration of streams.

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