wilderness photo

Overview

A vital and valuable natural resource

Montana is an immense state with 93 million acres of land. Nearly 23 million of it is forested. Most of these forested lands are located in the western part of the state, where Pacific weather systems, intercepted by high mountains, deliver enough moisture for forests to grow.

In the eastern part of the state, forested areas are primarily found in isolated mountain ranges like the Snowys, Belts and Bear Paws.

The National Forest estate occupies nearly 14 million acres. Beaverhead-Deerlodge
Bitterroot
Custer
Flathead
Gallatin
Helena
Kootenai
Lewis & Clark
Lolo

Nearly 4 million acres of Montana's forest lands are permanently reserved as either wilderness areas or National Parks. Of the remaining forested land, 11 million acres are administered by the U.S. Forest Service, with 5.2 million acres of this public estate designated by current forest plans as suitable for timber production.

Private forest lands occupy some 6 million acres, with 2 million owned and managed by timber companies like Plum Creek and F.H. Stoltze Land and Lumber. Another 4 million acres of private forest lands are owned by over 11,000 individuals. The rest of the forested estate is comprised of State, BLM, Tribal, County and other land ownerships.

Montana forests contain 27 native species of trees (17 conifers and 10 deciduous). The types of trees are:

Ponderosa pine* Englemann spruce* Green ash
Douglas fir* Subalpine fir* Balsam poplar
Western larch* White Bark pine Eastern cottonwood
Limber pine Mountain hemlock Black cottonwood
Grand fir* Rocky Mountain juniper Quaking aspen
Western White pine* Utah juniper Cascara buckthorn
Western Red cedar* Boxelder Peachleaf willow
Western hemlock* Paper birch American elm

*Most valuable commercial timber species.