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The Great Burn Recommended Wilderness

High in the northern Rocky Mountains on the Montana/Idaho border, there is a geography unlike any other. 

Named for the Big Burn of 1910, this 275,000-acre landscape bears the ecological fingerprint of fire and its abundant legacy. Marked by old-growth forests, wide-open meadows, crystal streams and jaw-dropping vistas, it is an unprotected treasure at the heart of the largest wildlands complex in the continental United States. 

This is the Great Burn Recommended Wilderness, the primary focus of our mission. We also work to conserve a larger landscape surrounding the Great Burn in Montana and Idaho, totaling 1.8 million acres.   

With the exception of active populations of grizzly bears, all the native plants, fish and wildlife, from the smallest plant to the largest predator, still thrive here.  The Great Burn contains high-quality habitat for elk, mountain goats, grizzly bears, gray wolves, lynx, fishers, wolverines, marten, and native fish whose habitat is almost gone elsewhere—as well as dozens of other important animal and plant species. Many of these are sensitive or only persist in the northern Rocky Mountain region.  

The Great Burn and surrounding wildlands are being pressed on all sides by forces of human activity. These irreplaceable resources are worthy of the highest protection. 

Learn more about where we work and what we do

Mission

The Great Burn Study Group works to protect wildlands and wilderness in the northern Bitterroot Mountains in western Montana and northern Idaho through advocacy, collaboration and on-the-ground stewardship. We are the only organization dedicated solely to this place. 

In western Montana and Idaho, unmitigated uses threaten the ecological integrity of wildlands in the northern Rocky Mountains. The U.S. Forest Service is the most powerful influence in conservation outcomes in our mission area. For years, however, the agency has been too financially stressed to carry out its mission adequately. 

Climate change is forcing land managers and conservationists to take a bigger-picture view. Congress is not able to meet public land policy needs effectively. And gridlock in Washington, D.C. promises policy uncertainty.

For over forty-five years, GBSG has met these challenges and effected real protection through a lean, focused program of work. We combine rigorous on-the-ground stewardship and place-based knowledge with practical, proven advocacy strategies.    

Learn more about our programs and approach

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Facts about wildlife

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Facts about Wild and Scenic Rivers

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Facts about Connectivity

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Something else