Gallatin Wildlife Association

Wildlife Advocates for Southwestern Montana

 

Bison on Blacktail Deer Plateau in Yellowstone National Park taken by Clint Nagel on 20190102.

Threats to the Endangered Species Act!

 

As you may know there have been countless attacks and threats to the Endangered Species Act over the years. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, there have been 75 since January 3, 2017. For that link for more information on the subject, it is below.

 

https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/campaigns/esa_attacks/trumptable.html

 

And as you may know, one of the more immediate threats to the ESA is the actual decision of the Trump Administration to have U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service to dismantle the heart of the act. We urge everyone to get involved and write letters to their respective Senators and Congress men and women to stop this blantant attempt to roll back protections of our most sensitive species.

 

This quote from the webpage of the National Audubon Society.

 

"But the most potent threat might come from the presidential administration itself. In July the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service, which administer the ESA, unveiled a suite of revisions ostensibly designed to streamline the law’s implementation."

 

For more information on the latest shananigans, please review this link from the National Audubo Society.

 

 https://www.audubon.org/magazine/fall-2018/recent-attacks-endangered-species-act-are-boon

 

This request is urgent!

 

 Please send your comments to Senator Tester:

 https://www.tester.senate.gov/contact/ 

 

 Senator Daines: 

 https://www.daines.senate.gov/connect/email-steve 

 

 and Congressman Gianforte: 

 https://gianforte.house.gov/contact

Custer Gallatin National Forest Revised Forest Plan:

 

1. GWA has amended their Custer Gallatin National Forest Revised Forest Plan comments!

http://www.gallatinwildlifeassociation.com/home/amended-gwa-s-custer-gallatin-national-forest-comments/

 

 2. The Link To GWA's Original Comments Can Be Found Here!

 

https://cara.ecosystem-management.org/Public/Letter/1928211?project=50185

 

A New Push for Wilderness: Local Wilderness Advocates Unite on the CGNF into a New Alliance:

 

A new alliance of wilderness advocates is in the process of forming, several of them of GWA membership along with other advocacy individuals and groups. The link below is their Op-Ed dated today, September 8, 2019, to introduce their organization to the community along the Custer Gallatin National Forest front. 

 

https://billingsgazette.com/opinion/columnists/guest-opinion-gallatin-wilderness-advocates-must-reunite/article_e0a4328a-4f3c-5766-80f9-9199ce9872f3.html

 

To learn more, visit their website at: http://gallatinyellowstonewilderness.org/

 

Custer/Gallatin National Forest

Renounces Concern for Imperiled Species

 

In developing a new long-range plan, the Custer/Gallatin National Forest is using the Forest Service 2012 planning rules for the first time. This has produced a serious decline in Forest Service recognition of and support for rare and declining species on the Custer/Gallatin Forest.

 

The current Forest plan recognizes a 2011 list of sensitive species identified across Region 1 of the Service. The new plan will replace these species with a list of “species of conservation concern” on the Forest.

 

Currently, Custer/Gallatin recognizes 29 vertebrate wildlife as sensitive species, affording them enhanced concern in management decisions. Of these, 27 are on the Custer Forest; 14 are on the Gallatin Forest. (Twelve occur on both Forests.) The draft Forest plan proposes replacing these with only 2 species – sage grouse and white-tailed prairie dog.

 

Threats to wildlife, including extinctions, extirpations, fragmented populations and degrading genomes, have been increasing for decades. Thus, the declining focus on imperiled wildlife, from 29 species to 2, seems absurd. Moreover, the draft plan states, as a desired future condition for the Custer/Gallatin: “A complete suite of native species is present, with sufficient numbers and distribution to be adaptable to changing conditions for long-term persistence.” 

 

The Custer/Gallatin analyzed 91 vertebrate species for possible listing as species of conservation concern. However, ultimate decisions come from the Regional Forester. Apparently, the Forest suggested 6 species for listing – the 2 cited above and 4 that were rejected by the Regional Forester. These 4 are western toad, arctic grayling, westslope cutthroat and Yellowstone cutthroat trout. In a brief meeting with the Regional Forester, Gallatin Wildlife was unable to ask for an explanation of these rejections.

The Forest list of analyzed species failed to include 2 species from the current list of sensitive species – greater prairie-chicken and wolverine. Other notable omissions were moose and swift fox.

 

Much of the decline in Forest Service emphasis upon imperiled wildlife stems from the “new” 2012 planning rules. New rules require that concern for population viability must be “substantial”. Species that are suspected, but not clearly known to be perennially present on a Forest are not allowed for listing as “of concern”. (Note that this rejects special concern for native species that have been extirpated from the Forest.) The rules allow the Regional Forester to reject listing if a species is present on only a small fraction of the Forest – and missing from most of its native Forest range. Lastly, species may not be listed as of conservation concern if evidence about the species presence, abundance, trends or distribution is considered “insufficient”.  

 

Having limited local information on rare species is common. The Forest Service rule indicates that the Service is more willing to risk loss of a native species than to risk an erroneous, but conservative, conclusion that a species is imperiled. Nineteen species were cited as having insufficient information in the Custer/Gallatin analysis. Sixteen of these were not identified as “secure”, but were not listed as of concern.

 

Notably rejected as being of conservation concern are bison (absent from almost all its large native range on the Forest) and bighorn sheep (persisting in small, somewhat isolated herds that, according to much available science, are not adequate for maintaining genetic quality and long-term persistence).

 

The Forest Service contends that the abandoned category of sensitive species is similar to the new category of species of conservation concern. It seems similarity is quite limited when the Custer/Gallatin goes abruptly from 29 sensitive species to only 2 species of conservation concern.

 

The real danger lies in the implication that, of all the vertebrate wildlife on the Custer/Gallatin, so many species are not of conservation concern. While the inadequate list of species of concern may diminish Forest Service support for imperiled species, the implication is also misleading to the public.

 

Clearly, the application of the 2012 planning rule by the Forest and Regional Forester is a step away from wildlife conservation on our National Forest.

 

Jim Bailey, Belgrade   April 12, 2019

 

 

Activities of the 2018 Year: Gallatin Wildlife Association

 

If you want to know what GWA does, this will provide you some insight.

  • GWA is a non-profit volunteer wildlife conservation organization representing hunters and anglers in Southwest Montana and elsewhere.  Our mission is simply to protect habitat and conserve fish and wildlife.  GWA supports sustainable management of fish and wildlife populations through fair chase public hunting and fishing opportunities that will ensure these traditions are passed on for future generations to enjoy. 
  • Our efforts benefit the community by continuing to focus on wildlife issues through emails, newsletters and outreach events.
  • Jan. 2, submitted on GWA's behalf was a supplemental comment to the Bozeman Ranger District of Custer Gallatin National Forest, comments pertaining to the North Bridger’s Forest Health Project.
  • Feb. 22 GWA cohosted the Wild and Scenic Film Festival, a free event for the community. Here we bring together local grassroots groups to share their efforts for conservation
  • Mar. 3, a 59-page comment on behalf of GWA was submitted to the Custer Gallatin National Forest concerning the Custer Gallatin National Forest Revision Plan.
  • Apr. 6, submitted comments and concerns to Sec. Zinke on the management status of the National Bison Range in Moise, Montana. We were urging them to complete the necessary documentation and actions including the revising of the Notice of Intent, preparing a draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP), and an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
  • Apr. 10, comments were provided on behalf of GWA on the Emigrant Crevice Mineral Withdrawal Draft Environmental Assessment to the Custer Gallatin National Forest.
  • GWA hosted a community event on June 28th on Wilderness, Wildlife and the Gallatin Range.
  • July 28th GWA did a Lighthawk flight to photo document conditions in the Gallatin and Bridger Ranges and generated a power point program which was presented to the community
  • Sponsored a community presentation on Oct 24th, giving the history and importance of the Gallatin Range
  • On Oct. 28, GWA provided a 24-page commentary to the Montana Department Natural Resources and Conservation concerning the Limestone West Timber Sale Draft Environmental Impact Statement.
  • Began our involvement with Montanans for Safe Wildlife Passage including the attending of the 2018 Summit in Helena, Montana on Dec. 4,5.
  • December 4th community presentation: What Future for the Gallatin Range?
  • January 14th , 2019 community presentation about wildlife corridors, connectivity and MSWP info
  • GWA supported development of the Montana Wild Bison Restoration Coalition as a separate grass-roots organization.
  • GWA promoted the application of science to Fish, Wildlife & Parks and their Commission, especially regarding management of small populations such as bighorn sheep. 
  • GWA opposed on economic and ecological grounds to use the Centennial Mountains by research/domestic sheep from the research stat ion in DuBois, Idaho.  
  • GWA petitioned the Forest Service to reevaluate domestic sheep grazing in the Gravelly Range, regarding its effective elimination of developing any self-sustaining bighorn herds on the Beaverhead/Deerlodge Forest.  
  • We attend numerous meetings and report back to members and an interested public about actions/management decisions that affect wildlife and their habitat.
  • GWA regularly communicates with the public through our website, please check us out; gallatinwildlifeassociation.com
  • Communications include sending talking points so more citizens can effectively communicate with decision makers.
  • When we host or cohost an event, the goals of GWA are to raise awareness about conservation issues, raise money to continue our work and to add and empower more citizens to understand issues that affect wildlife so they can advocate for wildlife 

One of Our (GWA) Goals: A Wildlife Crossing over I-90 at Bozeman Pass

 

Examples of Habitat and Corridor Fragmentation:

Pictures taken along the Gallatin Front and Bridger/Bangtail/Gallatin Complex

 

We view one of our most pressing needs is to help facilitate a wildlife crossing over I-90 at or near the vicinity of Bozeman Pass between Bozeman and Livingston. We would like to protect the existing use of a wildlife corridor that is present; perhaps allowing this to become a permeable barrier (rather than an impermeable barrier) to wildlife. That terminology of a permeable barrier is key to use when we write our comments on the Custer Gallatin National Forest Revision Plan. The existing Gallatin-Bridger Connectivity Corridor is one and is part of the totality of wildlife corridors which exists between the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem.

 

One of the highlights of the summit in December was the presentation of a 30 min film on the history and construction of the project near Snoqualimie Pass in Washington State. That film can be found on YouTube but we also will present that here for you to view. This will provide a better understanding of what has to be done, the scope of the work, time tables, etc.  The video is below.

 

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