Gallatin Wildlife Association

Wildlife Advocates for Southwestern Montana

 

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

 

Action Alert - Urge the Governor to Veto 2 Bills on Bison

 

HB 132 -Clarify Definition of Bison.

This bill would change the definition of "wild bison" of all things. If this bill were to be signed by Governor Bullock, it could ruin any possibility of relocating wild bison onto the natural landscape within Montana.

 

For more information on HB132, check out this link.

 

http://www.thewildlifenews.com/2019/02/18/bill-in-montana-legislature-kills-possibility-for-wild-bison-in-state/

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HB 332-Require County Approval to Relocate Bison

This bill would give final authority to  county commissioners on matters of relocating wild bison to their county overriding federal and state authority. Needless to say this means that local politics can harm chances and likelihood of translocating bison on the large landscape.

 

For more information on HB332, check out this link.

 

https://helenair.com/news/state-and-regional/govt-and-politics/bill-would-give-county-governments-final-say-on-montana-bison/article_a757dffb-d312-55cd-8b13-1f6785f4f13c.html

 

 

You can contact him here via this link: https://governor.mt.gov/contact

 

or use this email address on your server

governor@mt.gov

 

Office of the Governor

PO Box 200801

Helena MT 59620-0801

 

phone: 406-444-3111

 

 

Custer Gallatin National Forest Revised Forest Plan and the Draft Environmental Impact Statement is here!

Fairy Lake, Bridger Mountains. Photo taken on July 28, 2016 by Clint Nagel.

 

The Draft Plan for the Custer Gallatin National Forest Revised Forest Plan and the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for that plan has been released to the public for comment. We have 90 days from the issue date of March 1 to get our voices heard and our views known. That takes us from March 1 to June 5.

 

We can't impress enough upon all concerned citizens how critical this plan will be in shaping the future of the Custer Gallatin National Forest. Our wildlands depend upon it and our wildlife depend upon it. So much of this forest is under pressure from recreational enthusiasts and others who want to utilize bits and pieces of our forest for their own backyard playground. So much of our forest has already been sacrificed. How much more can it take? 

 

If you agree with the most preservation approach of this unique ecosystem, please take the time and comment.

 

The Summary DEIS states the following.

 

"Alternative D was developed to address comments and themes

of emphasizing natural processes and restoration."

 

Alternative D is the draft forest plan would offer the best protection for the Gallatin Range and other critical wildlife habitat across the Custer Gallatin Forest. Alternative D creates 39 recommended wilderness areas totaling over 711,000 acres across the forest. First, the original Hyalite-Porcupine-Buffalo Horn Wilderness Study Area (HPBH WSA); an area composing of the 155,000 acres is protected in Alternative D. In fact, Alternative D comes the closest to protecting all the roadless lands within the Gallatin Range by proposing 230,000 acres of wilderness. The remaining acres of designated wilderness include the Lionhead, Crazy Mountains, the Bridger Range, Cowboys Heaven, Deer Creeks, Lime Creek Plateau, Emigrant Peak, West Fork Rock Creek, Red Lodge Creek, Pryor Mountains and Tongue River Breaks.

 

In our comments, we  must think about the integrity of the ecosystem. The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) is universally recognized as the best intact ecosystem in the lower 48, and is widely recognized as one of the last remaining and best functioning temperate exosystems in the world. The Buffalo Horn-Porcupine drainages just north of Yellowstone National Park contain critical grizzly bear habitat, elk winter range, and a vital elk migration corridor, and are one of the best places for recolonization by wild bison. We also need to think about the connectivity potential that the Gallatins and other forests within the CGNF play in providing a critical pathway for species of the GYE to make contact of those Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem.

 

The other alternatives do not provide the protection of land or wildlife that Alternative D provides. We cannot be fooled by what some like-minded NGO's are recommending. Alternative C would protect only about half of the wilderness quality lands in a "rock and ice" scenario. It also releases the Porcupine Buffalo Horn drainages for motorized and mechanized recreation, more timber harvest, and temporary road-building. On a more problematic note, Alternatives B and C propose legitimizing decades of illegal mountain biking and ORV use in the HPBH WSA.

 

GWA is in the process of formulating our comments now!

 

We as individuals need to do the same!

 

Please speak up now! A 90-day comment period (ending June 5) is now open for the public to weigh in on the future of wild lands in the Custer Gallatin National Forest.

 

Public meetings are coming soon - please attend.

 

The meeting in Bozeman has already come and gone.

 

Livingston: Monday, April 22, 5:30pm, Yellowstone Pioneer Lodge

 

For more information, see here! Stay tuned for more information on this site. But in order to read the documents yourself, get your copy here.

 

https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/custergallatin/landmanagement/planning/?cid=fseprd482956

 

Talking Points and Topics of Comment

 

Wilderness:

  • Gallatin Range comprises a very important piece of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
  • The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is the largest essentially intact functioning ecosystem in the temperate zones of the world.
  • Gallatin Range contains the last major roadless area in the northern Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and priceless wildlands.
  • Need to safeguard key wildlife habitat areas and secure a 40-mile long unbroken habitat link for grizzly bears.
  • There is 230,000 of roadless lands that meet the criteria of wilderness character. Anything less would be short changing future generations of the spectacular wildlands for wildlife.
  • There is 711,000 of potential wilderness lands that has been set aside in Alternative D. Some of these lands will be in the Gallatins, Pryors, and other current wilderness areas.

Wildlife:

  • Proclaimed by prominent scientist that the Hyalite Porcupine Buffalo Horn Wilderness Study Area (HPH WSA) is renowned for it's wildlife. Species such as elk, grizzly and black bear, wolverine, moose and so many other species inhabit the slopes of the Gallatin Range.
  • The Gallatin Range serves as a wildlife corridor and connectivity route for a variety of species who are trying to reach other ecosystems to the north. (Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem)
  • Please ask the CGNF to state that the I-90 corridor between Bozeman and Livingston as a permeable barrier to wildlife. This relates to wildlife connectivity in order that wildlife can and may move northward without fear of mortality on the interstate.
  • There needs to be among the Forest Service the acknowledgement of a greater number of species of conservation concern. Species such as bison, bighorn sheep and others need to be reviewed as meeting this criteria.

Climate Change:

  • Wildlife species which require large landscapes need to be able to move in order to fight ill effects of climate change.
  • With hotter drier weather patterns, will leave more chances for fire. It has been shown that timber harvesting and dries out a forest faster than leaving the forest in tact. This could lead to more vegetative changes.
  • Wilderness and National Parks are best to sustain an ecosystem when the effects of climate change are factored in. 
  • Timber harvesting actually increases the release of carbon into the atmosphere enhancing the ill-effects of climate change.

More issues below

concerning Imperiled Species!

 

 

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

 

Coming Up:

 

Think about Give Big! 

 

This is GWA's only public source of fundraising and we need your help! As you may guess, there is plenty to do.  We are a small but active group trying to protect wildlife and wildlife habitat, wilderness and forest health. Please consider us on May 2, 3.

 

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 

Come and Gone:

 

The Wild and Scenic Film Festival

 

The 2019 Wild and Scenic Film Festival 

- a continued success.

 

Once again, GWA was proud to associate itself with the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club in hosting the Wild & Scenic Film Festival at the Emerson Theater in Bozeman this last Saturday, February 16th. The festival featured environmental films which illustrated the Earth’s beauty, the challenges facing our planet, and the work communities, groups and individuals are doing to protect the places and wildlife we love.

 

It is estimated that 350 were in attendance at the Emerson Theater. A raffle and silent auction were held along with free beer and pizza. If you couldn't make it this year, there is always next. Stay tuned.

Photo of the Wild and Scenic Film Festival at Emerson Theater, Bozeman, MT. Photo taken by Clint Nagel on Feb. 16, 2019.
Photo of the Wild and Scenic Film Festival at Emerson Theater, Bozeman, MT. Photo taken by Clint Nagel on Feb. 16, 2019.

 

Gallatin Wildlife Association

is Working to Protect the Gallatin:

 

 

The Gallatin Wildlife Association is working along side Cottonwood Environmental Law Center to help keep the Gallatin as pure as it should be, as clear and fresh as a mountain stream. The problem? Developers want to dump waste from the Big Sky community into the Gallatin River. But we had a setback. The latest message from John Meyer of Cottonwood Enviroinmental Law Center.

 

"Bozeman,
 
The Montana Board of Environmental Review denied Cottonwood and Gallatin Wildlife Association’s Petition this morning to permanently protect the Gallatin River from discharge of treated waste water. The Board offered the rationale that GYC is collaborating with developers. 
 
Cottonwood will be hiring another attorney. 
 
If you know a small business or person that values clean water over mansions and has a small shed near downtown that we can work out of please pass along my contact info. 
 
Thank you."

 

John Meyer

 

Executive Director & General Counsel 
Cottonwood Environmental Law Center

P.O. Box 412 Bozeman, MT 59771

 

For more information about our efforts, please contact John Meyer at Cottonwood Environmental Law Center.

 

John@cottonwoodlaw.org

 

 

GWA's Connection with MSWP:

 

Gov. Bullock addressing MSWP Summit, Helena, MT. Carrol College, 20181204.

For those who yet do not know, GWA is proud to be a member of the Montanans for Safe Wildlife Passage, an organization that is fighting to protect and keep wildlife connectivity and allow for safe passage of wildlife across the landscape. GWA is just one among several conservation organizations and citizen advocates that are involved in this work. As a result, GWA members Clint Nagel and John Shellenberger attended the first Annual Summit on the campus of Carrol College in Helena this past Dec. 4 and 5th. It was a remarkable good turnout with all invited guests and participants from private organizations and from both state and federal governmental agencies. 

 

As you can see from the pictures shown, Governor Bullock was in attendance, Director of Montana Dept. of Transportation, Mike Tooley, and Director of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Martha Williams. All said the right things, but now we have to make sure that there is follow through on all sides. One of GWA's first priorities is too establish a right of passage of wildlife through the I-90 corridor between Bozeman and Livingston. GWA is working within the process trying to make things happen. For more information, please contact Clint Nagel at clint_nagel@yahoo.com. All pictures in this segment were taken by Clint Nagel on Dec. 4th, 2018 at Carroll College in Helena, MT.

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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