Lee Metcalf And The Montana Wilderness Study Act Of 1977: A Case Study On The Wilderness Issue And Its Varying Viewpoints
In 1967 the United States Forest Service began a review of all roadless areas within the national forest system. The purpose of this nationwide roadless area review was to determine what areas, if any, should be preserved as wilderness. It was the inadequacies of this original study that led to the introduction of the Montana Wilderness Study Bill (S. 393) by Senator Lee Metcalf of Montana. The purpose of this thesis is to point out the differing views with respect to the wilderness issue in Montana and, as a result, the need for a thorough study of the lands designated in S. 393 as to their wilderness suitability. In October 1974 S. 393 was first introduced in Congress The sponsor of S. 393, Lee Metcalf, was a man dedicated to the proper utilization and preservation of our environment and natural resources. Metcalf developed much of his understanding for man's responsibility to interact harmoniously with the environment during his boyhood in the rural community of Stevensville, Montana. Metcalf was born in Stevensville on January 28, 1911, to Rhoda and Harold Metcalf. Metcalf ft attended both grade school and high school in Stevensville. He then attended the University of Montana for one year before transferring to Stanford University, where he completed his undergraduate studies in 1933 and from which he received a bachelor of arts degree with majors in history and economics. Also in 1933 Metcalf entered the University of Montana Law School. In 1936 Metcalf received his law degree from the University of Montana, was admitted to the Montana Bar Association, and was elected to the Montana State Legislature by Ravalli County. From that point in Metcalf's life until his death on January 12, 1978, he was continually committed, with the exception of service with the United States Army in Europe during World War II, to public service for Montanans. From 1937 until 1941, the year in which Metcalf volunteered for service in the army, he served as Assistant Attorney General for the State of Montana. Although Metcalf's budding political ambitions were showing by 1941, World War II forced them to lie dormant until 1946. During the war, Metcalf trained with the 607th Tank Destroyer Battalion. He eventually went to Europe for the Normandy Invasion (D-Day), and served with the 1st Army and 9th Infantry Division in five campaigns in Belgium, Germany and France. In 1946 Metcalf was released from the army, and was once again able to continue to pursue his political ambitions. Metcalf returned to Montana in 1946, and ran on a nonpartisan judicial ballot for the position of Associate Justice of the Montana Supreme Court. He won the election, and remained an associate justice until 1952, when he was elected to Congress as the United States Representative from Montana's 1st Congressional District. Metcalf retained that position in the House until 1960, when he was elected to the United States Senate, replacing the retiring Senator 2 James E. Murray. Throughout Metcalf's career, he was a politician ahead of his time with respect to conservation and environmental protection. Metcalf championed those areas because he understood the need to protect this nation's wilderness, wildlife, natural resources, and environment for future generations. Time after time during his tenure in Congress, Metcalf either sponsored or cosponsored legislation that supported his strongly held principles. For example, Metcalf consponsored the Clean Air Act of 1963, the Water Quality Act of 1965, the Clean Water Restoration Act of 1966, the Air Quality Act of 1967, the Water Quality Improvement Act and the Resource Recovery Act of 1970, and the Solid Waste Disposal Act of 1975. Those were by no means all of the environmental-oriented pieces of legislation in which Metcalf played an important role, but they do point out the fact that he was dedicated to all facets of environmental protection.