Wildlife Advocates for Southwestern Montana
The time to comment on the Custer Gallatin National Forest Revised Forest Plan has passed!
The Link To GWA's Comments On Line Can Be Found Here!
The 90-day comment period for the Custer Gallatin National Forest Draft Revised Forest Plan and the Draft Environmental Impact Statement
for that plan has expired. FYI-the Forest Service said they will still
accept comments but they may not be given their full weight.
There is nothing that will be affecting the quality of wildlife or their habitat more than how federal lands, public lands are administered. For more information, you can click on the Forest Service links below.
Here is the Plan itself:
On the attached page, there are some notes provided by a friend of ours George Wuerthner. These specifically deal with wilderness. Please feel free to use if needed. To view please see the link above entitled "Notes on CGNF Proposed Action" or click:
and Congressman Gianforte https://gianforte.house.gov/contact
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 wildlife and our wildlands depend upon it. So much of this forest is under pressure from recreational enthusiasts and others wanting to utilize bits and pieces of our forest for their own backyard playground. Much of our forest has already been sacrificed for those same reasons. How much more can it take?
If you agree with the preservation approach that this unique ecosystem needs to be protected for the survival of the collective species which inhabit this area, 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 has formulated our comments based upon science
and the legal premise which established this very process.
We as individuals need to do the same!
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.
George Wuethner's Power Point Slides on the Custer Gallatin National Forest Revised Forest Plan:
Check this link:
More Talking Points and Topics of Comment
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
Activities of the 2018 Year: Gallatin Wildlife Association
If you want to know what GWA does, this will provide you some insight.
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.
For more information about our efforts, please contact John Meyer at Cottonwood Environmental Law Center.
GWA's Connection with MSWP:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.