The Gallatin Forest Partnership Responds to the Release of the Final Custer Gallatin National Forest Plan
The following is a statement from the Gallatin Forest Partnership steering committee regarding the release of the Custer Gallatin National Forest’s final forest plan for the Madison and Gallatin Ranges.
The Custer Gallatin National Forest (CGNF) released its final forest plan, which will guide conservation, recreation, and other management decisions on the forest for the next several decades.
After an initial review, it appears that Custer Gallatin National Forest incorporated some important elements of the Gallatin Forest Partnership Agreement into the final plan while leaving out other critical details at the heart of the Agreement.
We are pleased that the Forest has, for the first time ever, recommended designating new Wilderness in the core of the Hyalite Porcupine Buffalo Horn Wilderness Study Area. We are also pleased to see that existing recreation uses will continue in the Porcupine-Buffalo Horn and West Pine Backcountry Areas.
While we’re glad to see the forest plan address these areas, we are disappointed that it does not reflect other critical details at the heart of the GFP Agreement, such as protecting Cowboy Heaven as recommended wilderness. It also provides only half of the protections in the Hyalite recreation area proposed by the GFP, leaving out important places like South Cottonwood.
The Madison and Gallatin ranges are some of the most intact wild areas in the country, and the Forest Service must act to secure their future. These ranges provide a variety of recreational resources which are of immense value to locals and visitors alike. The Forest Service needs to ensure that, in addition to providing recreational opportunities that are connected, carefully planned, and available to diverse user groups, it also protects wildlife habitat, clean water, and wilderness.
The Gallatin Forest Partnership Agreement was developed and supported by a broad group of local conservationists, recreationists, business owners, and citizens, and we will continue to encourage the CGNF to take our broadly supported recommendations into account. We will also continue to examine the details of the plan and are committed to pursuing our vision for this special place. We remain steadfast in our belief that working together is the best way to protect the wild places, outdoor recreation, and clean water of the Gallatin and Madison Ranges for the long term.