The lands making up the Scapegoat Wilderness were once slated for a very different outcome.
Called the Lincoln Backcountry, in the early 1960s the U.S. Forest Service saw opportunity for timber. The agency’s plans called for carving roads to access tens of thousands of acres of saw logs — plans that drew opposition from many locals and early wildland advocates, but would provide a boon of jobs to loggers and mills. In March of 1963, bulldozers began to stage at the Indian Meadows Trailhead near Lincoln.
“It would’ve been the end of the wilderness and we would’ve lost one of the greatest treasures in America,” said Rick Graetz, longtime writer and photographer of the wilderness and director of the University of Montana’s Crown of the Continent & Greater Yellowstone Initiative. One plan even included a road that stretched nearly 150 miles north to Marias Pass through what is now the Bob Marshall Wilderness complex, he said.
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Lincoln resident Cecil Garland worked for decades to see the 240,000-acre designation of the Scapegoat Wilderness. He pledged to protect the