Retired Wildlife Brass Urge Delegation to Protect Rocky Mountain Front


Mike Aderhold, Retired FWP Region 4 Supervisor, cell: 750-2396, home: 453-2549

Jeff Hagener, Retired FWP Director, 461-6561.
Gail Joslyn, Retired Rocky Mountain Front Biologist, 449-2795


Retired Wildlife Brass Urge Delegation to Protect Rocky Mountain Front

Former wildlife officials and biologists are requesting permanent protection for federal public lands along Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front saying it’s one of the most productive wildlife habitat areas left in the country.

Fifteen wildlife professionals and land managers including former directors, regional supervisors, and biologists of Fish Wildlife and Parks (FWP) sent a letter to Montana’s congressional delegation requesting support for the citizen-lead proposal, the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act.  

According to Mike Aderhold, who oversaw wildlife management in the Rocky Mountain Front region for 15 years, the Front contains some of the best wildlife habitat in the country and deserves additional protection.

“Without reservation, the limestone reefs and fescue flats of the Rocky Mountain Front make up the top 1% most productive habitat in the nation,” he said.  “As proof, its home to the nation’s second largest elk migration, largest bighorn sheep herd in the lower 48, one of the largest concentrations of wintering raptors in North America, and contains a higher diversity of animal and plant life than anywhere else in the Rockies from Canada to Mexico.” 

Good habitat is also why hunting and angling remains one of the most important economic drivers for local communities along the Front.  The most recent hunting data available from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks shows more than $10 million is spent each year along the Front by sportsmen in seasonal pursuit of elk, mule deer, upland game birds, and a variety of fish species.  

The letter includes the names of three former directors of Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks. The most recent, Jeff Hagener, praised the Front and the local citizens working to protect it. 

 “The Front is a special place where the mountains meet the prairie and currently remains largely unchanged by man compared the Front Range of Colorado or the Wasatch Front of Utah,” he said. “Special places such as this deserve to be protected for future generations to enjoy the endless scenery, flora and fauna.”

Gayle Joslin, a former FWP biologist who worked on the Rocky Mountain Front said the habitat on the Front was pivotal in bringing back Montana’s elk populations from the brink of extinction in the early twentieth century and Montana would do well to remember that lesson.

“Hunters really started to get the connection between good, unbroken habitat and restoring game populations one hundred years ago when they lobbied for the Sun River Game Preserve, the first of its kind in Montana, said Joslin.  “It’s what makes the Front so special, and why we need our representatives to help us finish the work that we began so long ago.” 

The letter points out that the unique conservation partnerships on the Front have led to the protection of over 100,000 acres of private ranching lands through conservation easements.  To complement this work, the public lands managed by the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management deserve permanent protection to ensure the Front remains intact and available for hunters, recreationists, outfitters and ranchers.

The Heritage Act proposes to protect these 300,000 acres of public land through a combination of new tools and resources to combat noxious weeds, a custom-tailored designation developed by locals, and common-sense Wilderness additions to the Bob Marshall Complex. 

According to the letter, “As wildlife professionals and land managers, we believe that the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act proposal was put together by folks who have an understanding not only of the Front, but of the intricacies and challenges faced by wildlife managers in a changing world. As former wildlife managers, biologists and game wardens who have spent our lives dedicated to wildlife conservation, we ask that you champion the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act.”

Read the letter here.