We are pleased to have collaborated with the Montana Wilderness Association (MWA) on the first annual MWA tee-shirt. The goal of the collaboration is to feature a location in Montana important to their mission of working with communities to protect Montana’s legacy of wild, open lands. All profits from MWA tee-shirt sales benefit the Montana Wilderness Association. The western slope of the Swan Range, pictured above in Rick Sheremeta's photo, was chosen for the inaugural tee. Our interview with Interim Executive Director, Gabriel Furshong, delves into MWA's objectives, history, and the current challenges facing Montana's wild places.
When was the Montana Wilderness Association founded?
For more than 50 years, Montana Wilderness Association has been working with communities across the state to protect Montana’s wilderness heritage, quiet beauty, and outdoor traditions. It’s a mission that began in 1958 when our founders, Ken and Florence Baldwin, sent a letter to 100 friends, inviting them to join a citizen-led effort to protect the Madison and Gallatin Ranges. Since that time, our commitment to grassroots conservation has proved instrumental in the passage of the 1964 Wilderness Act and in the designation of all 15 wilderness areas in Montana.
What are MWA’s objectives and goals?
We envision a future where Montana’s wild places are protected, connected, and restored because the citizens of our state value wilderness as essential to our heritage and way of life.
From MWA’s perspective, what is the largest concern/threat to the future of Montana’s wildlands that we are currently facing?
The largest threat to Montana’s wildlands began in April 2017 when President Trump signed an executive order instructing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review dozens of national monuments with an eye towards either shrinking the monuments or eliminating them altogether.
Sadly, the Upper Missouri River Breaks is subject to this review.
Monument protection of the Breaks ensures that future generations will enjoy the same opportunity we now have to experience some of the best big game hunting in the world; to view tipi rings, rock art, and other artifacts that go back thousands of years; and to camp and hike in the same riverside spots that Lewis and Clark did in 1802. That protection could, however, come to an end if monument designation is stripped from this landscape.
The Antiquities Act, the tool used to protect the Upper Missouri River Breaks and Pompeys Pillar, is also at risk. Some lawmakers, including Montana Senator Steve Daines, have already sponsored legislation to gut this 1906 law, which was championed and signed into law by Republican President Theodore Roosevelt.
In order to prevent the current administration from tampering with the Breaks as part of this ongoing review of 27 national monuments across the country, MWA partnered with a diverse group of Montanans under the name of Hold Our Ground. You can learn more about it HERE and I hope that you’ll join us in letting Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke know that Montanans stand opposed to shrinking or revoking the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument.
We want to keep it the way it is.
For the 1st Annual Roscoe/MWA tee-shirt, you chose to highlight the Swan Range. Can you tell me a bit about MWA’s past and current work in the Swan Range area and why of all the potential locations to choose from, did you feel it was especially important to draw attention to the Swan Range for this year’s tee-shirt?
For more than 10 years now, we’ve been part of the grassroots Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Project, a coalition of local timber workers, outfitters, conservationists, snowmobilers, business owners, and outdoor recreationists. Together, the group has helped shape a balanced solution for tackling public land management challenges in the Seeley Lake and Ovando areas, including the Swan Range.
Honoring the collaborative’s agreement, in March, Sen. Jon Tester introduced the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act, a grassroots proposal hammered out by the BCSP. Supported by 74% of Montanans, the bill would add 80,000 acres to the Bob Marshall, Scapegoat, and Mission Mountains Wilderness, forever safeguarding Grizzly Basin wild, a roadless area in the Swan Range, as well as Monture Creek, the North Fork of the Blackfoot River, and the West Fork of the Clearwater River.
Right now, the western slope of the Swan Range - showcased on Roscoe Outdoor’s new t-shirt - isn’t part of the Bob Marshall Wilderness. The Wilderness boundary ends at the crest of the Swan Range, just east of Grizzly Basin. When the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act passes, this aptly named cirque full of high alpine tarns will become part of the Bob Marshall Wilderness.
We’re encouraging our supporters to share their gratitude with Sen. Tester for introducing this bill by emailing him or calling (202) 224-2644. We’re also asking our supporters to urge Senator Steve Daines to support this grassroots, made-in-Montana proposal by calling him at (202) 224-2651.
With your help, you can make sure this local grassroots movement gets the national support it needs to get across the finish line. (And you can make sure your new Swan Range t-shirt isn’t just a t-shirt; it’s a t-shirt showcasing a new wilderness area.)
Here are the women's MWA tees:
And our men's MWA tees: