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Home Wild Word For the Future of our Custer Gallatin National Forest Wildlands
Pine Creek Lake. Photo by Walker Stole
Mar 20 2019

For the Future of our Custer Gallatin National Forest Wildlands

Act today to protect the Gallatins, Madisons, Crazies, and other beloved places in southern Montana

Announcements, Featured

Encompassing everything from soaring alpine peaks near Bozeman to sandstone outcroppings in the prairies around Ekalaka, the Custer Gallatin National Forest (CGNF) is one of the most diverse national forests in the country.  The U.S. Forest Service is currently in the midst of revising its plan for managing this 3 million-acre national forest that spans across the southern portion of Montana, from West Yellowstone to South Dakota. The Forest Service recently released a draft of the revised plan, and opened up a 90-day comment period in which the public is welcome to weigh in and submit comments on the draft. 

Nothing less than the wild legacy of southern Montana is at stake in the outcome of this forest planning revision, which may or may not mandate the Forest Service to protect the Gallatin Range, the Crazy Mountains, the Pryor Mountains, and other revered wildlands in the Forest for the next 20 to 30 years. That makes it imperative that those who care about the preservation of wildlands across southern Montana to submit comments.

The deadline for comments is June 6th, 2019. Submit your comment today.

The draft plan includes five different alternatives, each of which provides options for how the Forest Service could manage the CGNF for decades to come. The Forest Service can pick and choose specific points from each of the alternatives to formulate a final decision, so it’s important to tell the Forest Service what parts of each alternative best protects our wilderness heritage. 

We know you care about the wild country in the CGNF, so this is your opportunity to shape its future. The good news is that we’re here to make participating in the planning process as simple as possible. Your comments can have a big impact on the final decisions made by the Forest Service to protect wildlands, clean drinking water, wildlife habitat, and recreation opportunities. Looking at the maps of alternatives in Appendix A of the DEIS might be helpful.

You can also check out our guide to writing effective comments.

In the draft, the Forest Service has proposed to protect many of the areas we think deserve it, but the agency still has some work to do. Please join us in supporting the following recommendations that will help ensure that the final plan offers protection for some of southern Montana’s wildest places:

  • Protect the Crazy Mountains to preserve their outstanding wilderness values and manage the area in close consultation with the Crow Nation
  • Protect the following roadless areas in the Pryor Mountains as recommended Wilderness: Lost Water, Big Pryor, Punch Bowl, and Bear Canyon
  • Implement the Gallatin Forest Partnership agreement
  • Maintain the boundaries of the current recommended Wilderness in the Lionhead
  • Retain areas currently recommended for Wilderness in the Absaroka Beartooth area, and additionally recommend Dome Mountain, Emigrant Peak, Chico Peak, Woodbine, East Rosebud to Stillwater, and Red Lodge Creek
  • Manage the Tongue River Breaks, King Mountain, and Cook Mountain in the Ashland district as recommended Wilderness
  • Manage recommended Wilderness just like designated Wilderness, allowing only foot and horse travel in recommended Wilderness and not allowing any mechanized or motorized use

For more information, check out this overview detailing some of the most important and sensitive areas in the CGNF and how we can protect them in the new forest plan. 

Click here to comment now 

If you want more help, join us at one of the following events, where we’ll be breaking down the planning revision process and providing guidance for writing effective comments:

  • Bozeman: April 10, 6 - 7 p.m. at the Bozeman Event Space, 14 S Tracy
  • Billings: May 6, 6:30 -  8:30 p.m. at Yellowstone Valley Brewing, 2123 1st Ave N B (The first 20 people to write a comment at this event will receive a free glass of beer or house-made root beer!)
  • Red Lodge: May 15, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. at Red Lodge Ales/Sam’s Tap Room, 1445 Broadway Ave. N. (The first 20 people to write a comment at this event will receive a free beer or cider!)

If you can’t make it to one of these events, consider attending the public meetings and webinars the Forest Service is planning. All of the following meetings are free and open to the public. These meetings are all in-person and are a great opportunity to ask questions directly to the planning team: 

  • Bozeman: April 3 
  • West Yellowstone: April 4 
  • Ashland: April 8 
  • Camp Crook, SD: April 9 
  • Billings: April 10 
  • Red Lodge: April 11
  • Big Timber: April 22 
  • Livingston: April 22 
  • Cooke City: April 23 
  • Gardiner: April 23 

Click here to for specifics about time and locations and to see a full list of available webinars.

Finally, you can subscribe and listen to the “Forest Service Planning Podcast” by Your Forests, Your Future on iTunes, Spodify, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. 

Again, if you're ready, offer your comments now

If you have more questions or need more information, feel free to contact one of us. You can reach Emily Cleveland in Bozeman at ecleveland@wildmontana.org and Aubrey Bertram in Billings at abertram@wildmontana.org

- Emily Cleveland, MWA southwestern Montana field director & Aubrey Bertram, MWA eastern Montana field director