Wildlife Advocates for Southwestern Montana
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.
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.
This request is urgent!
Please send your comments to Senator Tester:
and Congressman Gianforte:
Custer Gallatin National Forest Revised Forest Plan:
1. GWA has amended their Custer Gallatin National Forest Revised Forest Plan comments!
2. The Link To GWA's Original Comments Can Be Found Here!
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.
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.
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.