|Current Protection||Management Agency||Total Area|
|Proposed Wilderness||United Sates Forest Service||298,623 Acres|
There are many potential additions to the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness. Starting in the East, there is the Line Creek Plateau near Red Lodge. Steep timbered canyons flank this high alpine grassland which supports 20 rare or uncommon plants. The plateau is over 10,000 feet in elevation. The Custer Gallatin National Forest has recommended only 801 acres out of 32,983 roadless acres with some on the Shoshone National Forest. The plateau is so special that the Forest Service has designated 16,127 acres as the Line Creek Research Natural Area. At least 30,000 acres should be recommended for wilderness.
The West Fork and Lake Fork of Rock Creek by Red Lodge and the Beartooth Front from Red Lodge to East Rosebud drainage comprise 34,640 acres of roadless lands adjacent to the existing Absoroka Beartooth Wilderness that includes 27 miles of trail. The West Fork of Rock Creek is the municipal watershed for Red Lodge. In particular, all the roadless lands in both the glaciated valleys of the West and Lake Forks of Rock Creek should be recommended as wilderness.
The 25,000 acre East Rosebud to Stillwater roadless area along the Beartooth Front provides for the access to East and West Rosebud, as well as Stillwater trailheads. All should be protected as wilderness.
Along the north face of the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness are any number of roadless lands that should be added to the list of recommended wildernesses, including the 129,000 Deer Creek drainage lying between the Boulder River and Stillwater River, and includes lands surrounding the East Boulder, Lower Deer Creek, Upper Deer Creek and Bridger Creek. This area, which is mostly foothill terrain, is largely missing from the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness. It is important elk and deer habitat, not to mention genetically pure Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout in the upper Deer Creek drainages. At least half of this area could be managed reasonably well as wilderness.
The 5,000 acre Mount Rae between the Boulder and West Boulder Rivers is another area with aspen and meadows and good wildlife habitat.
The 8,000 acre Tie Creek/Mission Creek/Livingston Peak including the north face of Shell Mountain with trailhead access near the 63 Ranch east of Livingston Peak provides the scenic backdrop to Livingston. Little Mission and Mission Creek both harbor genetically pure Cutthroat Trout. All of this area should be protected.
In Paradise Valley, much of the lower foothills of the Absaroka Mountains are not within the wilderness, the entire roadless terrain of 13,000 acres from Deep Creek to Strawberry Creek along the Absaroka Front should be added to the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness.
Also, Chico Peak, Emigrant Peak and Dome Mountain 56,000 acre roadless reaches from Cedar Creek by Gardiner north to Passage Creek in the Mill Creek drainage. Except for existing mineral claims, the entire area should also be added to the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness. These lands are critical migration corridors and winter range for elk and bison moving north from Yellowstone as well as important grizzly bear habitat. Six Mile Creek has pure Yellowstone Cutthroat trout populations. One way to make a mine in Emigrant Gulch more difficult is if all these lands were designated wilderness.