Gallatin Wildlife

Association

Wildlife Advocates for Southwestern Montana

 

 

The Time of Release of the

Custer Gallatin Forest Revision Plan

Is Here!

The following from Custer Gallatin Forest Service Press Release

Gallatin Range photo taken July 13, 20219 by Clint Nagel.

 

 

 

Custer Gallatin Forest Plan Revision

2020 Land Management Plan Available, draft Record of Decision


The Custer Gallatin National Forest is pleased to release the 2020 Land Management Plan (Forest Plan), draft Record of Decision and Final Environmental Impact Statement today.

Go to Documents

Be sure to check out the 25 page Summary and draft Record of Decision that is a great starting point for reviewing the documents and explaining the why behind decisions.

 

Visit Online  

July 9, 2020 


 

 

Work with us as we develop objection comments, comments which must be submitted by Sept. 8.

To view our comments click on link above or on this link here. These comments and observations are a work in progress.

 

http://www.gallatinwildlife.org/home/observations-and-comments-on-the-final-forest-plan/

 

" It's time to comment on Grizzly Bears" -

The Governor's Grizzly Bear Advisory Council is nearing their final recommendations....

Photo by (Jim Peaco/Yellowstone National Park)

 

The GGBAC has their draft comments on line and can be found here. While their comments are not final yet, they are preparing to make them so before they present their findings to the Governor at the end of August. So now is the time to comment. While there are a lot of good things in the draft, some things need improvement. Those are listed below.

 

1. While we have been stressing connectivity, the draft makes an effort in that direction. But there are some troublesome statements which need to be clarified in the draft before they become final. One of them is guiding principle #9. It is stated here.

 

"The council supports and understands that as expansion of grizzly bears occurs East of the Rocky Mountain Front and North of Interstate 90, that do not contribute to connectivity of recovery zones, dictates special attention, management and allocation of resources and those areas needs to be clearly articulated in MTFWP management plans."

 

GWA has long been pushing for the connectivity route northward from the Gallatin Range across I-90 into the Bridger Range. We're not sure what this statement means other than being very poorly stated, but we disagree with what the intention seems to be. This corridor link is fundamental in part of the that connectivity. WE must be adamant on this issue. 

 

2. We also disagree with recommendations 28-30. First off, it is not man that should determine where grizzly habitat and corridors should remain, it is the grizzlies innate ability that should decipher that. Recommendation 28 states:

 

"Council recommends that FWP and all relevant agencies clearly define the landscapes in between the four recovery zones in Montana that are important for connectivity and the long term sustainability of the grizzly bear, as well as those areas that are not a priority to grizzly bear connectivity."

 

Once again man is placing himself above knowledge of the wild. Let the bear determine the landscapes, not FWP. We reject the idea that MFWP gets to decide those areas where the grizzly bear is less important or critical to connectivity. This seems to open the door for the possibility of introducing hunting as a proper management tool.  

 

3. On the subject of hunting, it has not been determined yet as to how the Council will incorporate that issue in the final recommendations. We want to stand firm that now is not the time for hunting. It has no place as we are still trying to gain connectivity. Hunting will make that goal that much harder to reach. The final report needs to come out against trophy hunting in the strongest sense of the word.

 

To read documentation, click on this link.

 

http://fwp.mt.gov/fishAndWildlife/management/grizzlyBear/gbac.html

 

In saying all this, there is some good in the bill!

 

1. There is the recognition that education and outreach are important for the public to understand the behavior and biology of the grizzly bear.

 

2. There is a very good emphasis placed upon reducing grizzly bear/human conflicts. This is extremely important in reducing bear fatalities.

 

3. And there are some good ideas on increasing funding and necessary resources for grizzly bear management.

 

To View GWA's Draft Comments, Click Here!

 

http://www.gallatinwildlife.org/position-papers/our-strategy-on-grizzly-bears/

 

Stay tuned to this place for more information!

 

To make Comments, click here: 

 

http://fwp.mt.gov/fishAndWildlife/management/grizzlyBear/gbacComments.html

 

 

Note to Membership:                                                                                                                     June 25, 2020

 

GWA is proud to announce

our first active Facebook page!

 

It has been a long-time coming, but that day has arrived. The link is here! 

 

https://www.facebook.com/gallatinwildlifeassociation/

 

This couldn't have come at a better time. With the event of Covid-19, we all have to search out better ways to get our name and word out to the general public. Hopefully this achievement will help in that effort. We will tie both entities together, but this website will obviously hold the bulk of news and information. This may be more helpful than ever as Covid-19 cases in Montana are on the rise. Even though restrictions and stay at home order have been lifted across the state, GWA has not resumed our biweekly board meetings in the public arena and the rise of Covid-19 cases makes that possibility more unlikely in the near future. Please be aware we are monitoring the situation closely. All public meetings due to the outbreak of Covid-19 will be curtailed until we feel our board and members can meet safely. We also depend upon the full opening of our familar meeting locations. 

 

This does not mean, however, that we are not still working on behalf of wildlife. Look at the list below for proof of that. If there are any concerns or issues you have, we can communicate via email, text or phone. Also please refer to this website.  This is still the best way to keep informed of our activities. 

 

We will notify you when our world gets back to normal, however, it might be said, we will be looking at a new normal. In the mean time for those of you who are willing and able, use our new Facebook Page for advance news and information. Peace to all and be safe. Thank you.

 

Clinton Nagel, President
Gallatin Wildlife Association
 
 

 

Road Densities: How Many Roads are Enough?

 

Road density in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, provided by the U.S. Geological Survey.

 

Take a good hard look at the map above and get your bearings. It is not hard to distinguish the boundaries and lands of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks as well as wilderness areas of Lee Metcalf, the Absaroka-Beartooth and those wilderness areas of the Wind River Range. This says it all. If you want to preserve lands or provide corridors for wildlife to migrate northward to re-establish that connectivity, there are hardly any lands left that haven't already been crisscrossed with roads. The more roads increasing that road density, the more it succumbs wildlife to an island-like existence trapped by a sea of roads. This is why we are fighting so hard to protect the lands as they are from becoming totally impassible for wildlife. Man has this insatiable appetite to devour land up for his own personal gain or conquest that it leaves little left for other species. This is the challenge before us. If it weren't for our historical preservationist from setting our National Parks and Wilderness Areas aside, these roadless areas would look like the rest of the surrounding lands.

 

We Are Quickly Dismantling Our Wildlife Habitat!

 

 

What you see below are two maps showcasing roads along the Bridger Range and the Gallatin Front. Two recent court cases: the North Bridger Forest Health Project and the Bozeman Municipal Watershed Fuels Reduction Project contain a combination of works such as logging, thinning, burning, and road construction. GWA opposes these projects based upon a better science and a common sense. The stated rationale for these two projects is to provide fire protection to the watershed and to protect infrastructure in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI). We see this as an excuse for more logging and thinning in order to “get the cut out”. That is the sense of GWA and we believe these type of projects will do more harm than good when it comes to fire prevention.

 

Picture taken by Nancy Schultz in June 2020. Wheeler Mountain sitting in between the drainages of Cottonwood Creek to the left and Bear Creek to the right and west. Notice the previously logged areas and roads toward the top of the mountain from decades a

 

The rationale for our opposition is contained within and throughout this website, but primarily it is based upon the science that wildfires are affected by current drought and dry conditions rather than by whether a forest is logged or not. Old growth forests which are contained in areas of the maps below help sequester carbon which helps fight climate change. So why are we willing to hamper a solution to one of the more environmental and consequential issues of the day?

 

What these projects will do is hinder the ability of wildlife to reach any connectivity to the north from the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE). It will fragment wildlife habitat even more than it already is, increase the likelihood of invasive species, dry out the forests that remain, and eliminate biodiversity. Not to mention, logging reduces the likelihood of carbon sequestration from the GYE.

 

As one reviews these two maps, we hope to show that roads have already crisscrossed the area to the degree that wildlife already have a huge disadvantage in trying migrate into areas for food, security, and escape. How many roads are to many? We say we have reached that point. 

 

The Bridger Range extending southward toward Bozeman.

 

 

Gallatin Range Front bordering Bozeman.

 

GWA contends the obvious, we do not need more roads. Habitat fragmentation is reaching the critical point along the Bridger Range and Gallatin Front.

 

GWA would like to refer interested parties to a research article entitled "Rapid growth of the US wildland-urban interface raises wildfire risk" published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) March 27, 2018. The authors are listed here.

 

Authors:

Volker C. Radeloff, David P. Helmers, H. Anu Kramer, Miranda H. Mockrin, Patricia M. Alexandre, Avi Bar-Massada, Van Butsic, Todd J. Hawbaker, Sebastian Martinuzzi, Alexandra D. Sypard, and Susan I. Stewart.

 

It states on the article this and so much other good material.

 

"The wildland-urban interface (WUI), defined as the area where houses are in or near wildland vegetation, is the area where wildfires pose the greatest risk to people due to the proximity of flamable vegetation1. Wildlfires frequently burn houses in the WUI2,3, and are most difficult to fight there. Furthermore, the WUI is where people often ignite wildfires4, and the vast majority of fires are human caused5. While fires are an integral part of the many ecosystems and the Earth syste as a whole6, humans have changed fire regimes globally7 and throughout the United States5, and climate change will increase fire frequency in the future including in the WUI8."

 

References: References below are from the article itself used in its preparation and we give all credit to these authors and those listed above and the PNAS.

 

1. Radeloff VCet al. (2005The wildland-urban interface in the United StatesEcol Appl 15:799805.

2. Alexandre PMMockrin MHStewart SIHammer RBRadeloff VC  (2015Rebuilding and new housing development after wildfireInt J Wildland Fire 24:138149.

3. Calkin DECohen JDFinney MAThompson MP (2014How risk management can prevent future wildfire disasters in the wildland-urban interfaceProc Natl Acad Sci USA 111:746751.

4. Syphard ADet al. (2007Human influence on California fire regimesEcol Appl 17:13881402.

5. Balch JKet al. (2017Human-started wildfires expand the fire niche across the United StatesProc Natl Acad Sci USA 114:29462951

6. Bowman DMet al. (2009Fire in the earth systemScience 324:481484.

7. Bowman DMet al. (2011The human dimension of fire regimes on EarthJ Biogeogr 38:22232236.

8. Schoennagel Tet al. (2017Adapt to more wildfire in western North American forests as climate changesProc Natl Acad Sci USA 114:45824590.

 

 

The Bozeman Municipal Watershed Project:

Do Citizens of Gallatin County

really know what is at stake?

 

The Forest Service and the City of Bozeman signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in 2005 "to establish a framework for cooperation between the parties to maintain (in the long term) a high quality, predictable water supply for Bozeman through cooperative efforts in part by implementing sustainable land management practices."  Those are the exact words as stated in this link:

 

http://weblink.bozeman.net/WebLink8/0/doc/178492/Electronic.aspx

 

What is the Stated Purpose?

According to  the MOU, there is this.

 

 

"The principal purpose of this project is to reduce the risk of severe and extensive wildfire on National Forest System lands within the Bozeman Municipal Watershed and thereby reduce the risk to life and property in and adjacent to the project area. More specifically, the purpose and need for the project is described below:" 

 

  • Protection of the municipal water supply for Bozeman:
  • Reduce fuels along road corridors to provide safer conditions for fire-fighting and evacuation in the event of a wildfire: 
  • Reduce the risk of high intensity wildfire spreading from National Forest System lands onto private lands that border these watersheds: 

 

Why we are opposed?

  • The value of Old Growth Forests in maintaining biodiversity,
  • The value of Old Growth Forests in fighting climate change,
  • The value of this section of the forest in providing habitat for a wildlife corridor to the north,
  • The harm that increased roads have on wildlife. This project would further increase wildlife habitat fragmentation.
  • The potential harm to endangered species habitat.
  • Logged and thinned forest causes adverse micro-climatic changes in humidity, sunlight, and wind. All making fires (when they do come) burn hotter.

 

We all know there are other ways, ecological friendly ways to maintain forest health.  Anyone who reads this website knows, we don't support logging or thinning as a best practice for forest health management. This is an old and outworn practice that has not served the U.S. public lands well. 

 

This photo and the one above were taken in the Kirk Hill area by Phil Knight. Notice the red markings on trees for the proposed cut.

 

Here is a map showcasing the lands that are at risk.

 

 

Why is timber harvesting the wrong approach?

According to a letter signed by over 600 scientists,

 

"Clearcutting and other even aged silvercultural practices and timber road construction have caused widespread forest ecosystem fragmentation and degradation. The result is species extinction, soil erosion, flooding, destabilizing climate change, the loss of ecological processes, declining water quality, diminishing commercial and sport fisheries, and recently mudslides in Oregon which killed American citizens."

 

This statement was from the letter to Congress itself signed by:

 

Dr. Peter Raven
Home Secretary,
National Academy of Sciences
Director, Missouri Botanical Gardens

Jane Goodall, C.B.E., Ph.D.
Director of Science and Research
The Jane Goodall Institute
(Silver Spring, MD)

Edward O. Wilson, Ph. D.
Pellegrino University Research Professor
Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology
Harvard University
Cambridge, MA

 

This letter can be found here at: https://www.saveamericasforests.org/resources/Scientists.htm

 

 

What you can do?

  1. Please email Custer Gallatin Forest Supervisor Mary Erickson at: mary.erickson@usda.gov

 

2020: And it isn't getting any easier:

Cozy Deer captured by Ruth Angeletti south of Bozeman.

As we begin the 8th month of year 2020, many of us are probably saying to ourselves, this year can't end fast enough. We probably shouldn't say that for as my mom used to say to me when I was a kid, "You don't want to wish your life away".

 

Besides the obvious news stories of the day, threats upon our wildlife and environment are coming at us at a faster pace than ever before. And this seems to be even more true in the advent of COVID-19. Why do you suppose that is? Do you ever get tired of playing defense? We do. To state the obvious, we are in challenging times as we enter into this new year, even more so than we would have originally predicted. For those involved in the environmental community, that is an understatement. But that doesn’t mean we are helpless or hopeless. Consistency, unity, advocacy and passion are necessary to combat the overwhelming threats that seem to be imposed upon our wildlife and their habitat today. It is much easier to fight the good fight with the help of others striving for the same cause, whether you are with an organization or as an individual, we invite you to join the Gallatin Wildlife Association (GWA).

 

What We've Done So Far?

 

1. Signed on to comments along with Wyoming Wildlife Advocates and Sierra Club, Wyoming Chapter, and Western Watersheds Project concerning the Wyoming Chronic Wasting Disease Management Plan draft proposal 2019/2020 as sponsored by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

 

2. Signed on to comments along with Wyoming Wildlife Advocates and Sierra Club, Wyoming Chapter to Wyoming Game and Fish Department urging them to phase out elk feeding grounds in northwestern Wyoming. 

 

3. Provided Amicus Brief on behalf of GWA against the proposed timber sale as part of the North Bridger Forest Health Project.

 

4. Sent letters to and visited the offices of Senator Daines and Tester urging them to reconsider the public land give-away of the National Bison Range in Moiese, Montana. This National Wildlife Refuge is being transferred into the dead of night to tribal lands of the CSKT. GWA is against this sale as we believe it sets bad precedent not to mention the loss of public bison, the science and the infrastructure that has been bought and paid for by the U.S. Government. Submitted Op-Ed letter to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle newspaper on the subject to try and inform the public.

 

5. Heavily involved and completed in the sponsoring of the 6th annual Wild and Scenic Film Festival.

 

6. Submitted comments on NEPA changes as proposed by the Trump Adminstration.

 

7. GWA along with Montana Rivers and Cottonwood Environmental Law Firm filed a complaint in District Court against the Department of Environmental Quality to protect the Gallatin River from unwanted pollution from proposed discharge of treated waste water from the Big Sky community.

 

8.Have agreed with several other NGO(s) to bring suit against the Forest Service to curtail the bad precedent of the elk feeding grounds in Wyoming. Action soon to be coming.

 

9. Written comments on the Montana's Climate Solution Plan as drafted by the Climate Solution Council originated by Governor Steve Bullock.

 

10. Submitted comments on BLM's effort to weaken grazing regulations on public land. 

 

11. GWA originated a sign-on letter addressed to the U.S. Forest Service (Regional Offices) to not participate with the state of Idaho Dept. of Fish and Game to violate Federal Law in the management of the Gray Wolf in wilderness areas within the state.

 

12. GWA, eleven other conservation groups, and Footloose Montana along with two community leaders signed on to a letter requesting the Director and Commission of Montana's Fish, Wildlife and Parks to suspend all trapping on public lands during the Covid-19 pandemic crisis.

 

13. GWA held their first ever "virtual" board and membership meeting on April 21, 2020 at 9:00am due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Many topics were discussed and it was felt that this medium (Zoom) held great promise for future meetings.

 

14. On May 8, 2020, submitted comments to the Governor's Grizzly Bear Advisory Council over the idea of proposed hunting of grizzly bears as part of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks statewide's management plan on public land.

 

15. GWA submitted comments written by Dr. Jim Bailey to the Centers of Disease Control and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service on the subject of removal of Brucella abortus from the select agent bioterror list. Comments submitted May 12, 2020.

 

16. GWA cosigned a letter along with several other NGOs sponsored by Western Watershed urging the U.S. Congress to include stimulus funding for protection of wildlife and public lands on May 12, 2020.

 

17. On May 30, GWA submitted original comments to the Montana Dept. of Transportation on the U.S. Hwy 191 Project Study, a study researching resources from Four Corners to the Junction of Beaver Creek Rd at Hwy 191 just south of Big Sky, MT. This highway cuts through prime wildlife habitat resulting in severe animal/vehicle collisions each year. If you would like to comment, here is the link.

 

https://www.mdt.mt.gov/pubinvolve/us191/

 

18. In June, GWA is glad to announce the realization we have our first active Facebook page. See details above.

 

19. GWA signed on to a letter with other NGOs for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to release all correspondence they have had with the Governor's Grizzly Bear Advisory Council (GGBAC). We believe that there has been some attempted influence to get the GGBAC to adopt a proposal for grizzly bear hunting.

 

20. On July 4th, GWA sent a letter to the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs  requesting them to remove provisions relating to the National Bison Range. GWA and the Blue Goose Alliance and many other groups do not believe that federal lands and their corresponding native wildlife should be negotiated away simply as a real estate deal or as cash to bail out a state's economic woes.

 

And it is only the 2nd of July as I update this. This is not all. The work continues on. I could ramble on, but time, space and your attention, probably say “no”. But let me leave you with a couple of questions. What kind of forest system do we want? What kind of world do we want? We at the Gallatin Wildlife Association, say we want one that protects the “wild” in wildlife. If you agree, again please join us.

 

Clint Nagel, President

Gallatin Wildlife Association

 

 

What Are We Working on Now?

 

While many of us are waiting on the final word from the Custer Gallatin National Forest concerning the Final Revised Forest Plan, there is still work to do. In relation to that, there is the Bozeman Municipal Watershed fuels reduction project. For more information, please see above.

 

Thank you!

Seeking Protection for the Gallatin:

Gallatin River taken by Clint Nagel on Aug. 21, 2015.

 

GWA continues to do the work that many organizations refuse to do. The case of the Gallatin River is a prime example. We are "Seeking Protection" as was stated in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle's headline on Feb. 21, 2020. For your convenience, that link is provided here.  

 

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5e0bc611110481169f922126/t/5e5411ee4f74387f5e1d863c/1582567920503/Seeking+Protection.pdf

 

The Problem and the Solution:

If you prefer to learn more on this huge concern, and you should, please click on the link below. We're trying to get the Gallatin River protected and listed as an "Outstanding Resource Water" (ORW). Potential wastewater discharge from Big Sky with all of its known and unknown contaminants threaten that quality of water. It has been a long slog, but a fight we believe worth the effort. We have to ask ourselves, how much deterioation of water quality do we want in the Gallatin River? There are some groups who seem to state, they are willing to compromise some of that quality away. Our question, how do you do that? Why would you do that?

 

https://www.cottonwoodlaw.org/work/permanently-protecting-35-miles-of-the-gallatin-river

 

Sign the Petition:

We are asking anyone and everyone who is interested to protect the Gallatin River to sign the petition through Change.Org.

 

Designate the Gallatin River as an Outstanding Resource Water (ORW)

 

https://www.change.org/p/protect-the-gallatin-from-wastewater-discharge

 

As you look at these pictures, how much contamination do you want to see on the Gallatin?

 

 

 

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