BACKPACKING -- The U.S. Forest Service says it’s changing from a voluntary permit system to requiring permits in the popular Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness in western Montana.
Wilderness rangers say a growing number of visitors to the area have been ignoring filling out voluntary permits and disregarding warnings about backcountry abuse.
Forest Service spokesman Brandan Schulze says the permits will give the agency an idea of trends in the area so actions can be taken to minimize impacts on the wilderness.
Schulze tells the Missoulian it’s also a way to inform visitors about leave-no-trace principles.
As part of the change rangers will start checking hikers for completed permits. Fines for failing to have a permit range up to $75.