Wildlife Advocates for Southwestern Montana
Gallatin Yellowstone Wilderness Alliance (GYWA)
A new alliance of wilderness advocates is in the process of forming in the Bozeman community with the help of several founding members of GWA membership and other advocacy individuals and groups. GWA officially supports this new alliance and the effort and push for increased wilderness on the Custer Gallatin National Forest. Wilderness is obviously necessary to: protect wildlife habitat, protect the watershed, and sequester carbon in fighting against climate change. Even though GWA's mission statement is focused on the protection of wildlife and wildlife habitat, we have long been advocates for the greatest protection of wilderness. The link below is their Op-Ed dated 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/
George Wuerthner and the Gallatin Yellowstone Wilderness Alliance
present OUR Custer Gallatin Wilderness
George Wuerthner, ecologist and writer will speak at the Lindley Center on October 29th. He will show and discuss areas in the Custer Gallatin National Forest that need to be protected with Wilderness designation.
The Gallatin Range has had decades of efforts to establish the Hyalite Porcupine Buffalo Horn Wilderness Study Area. Now we need to preserve the HPBH WSA and add lands that were inventoried by the Forest Service as roadless and of wilderness quality. Wilderness is the only form of protection that can hold up in the face of exploding development and potential overuse.
The valleys between the Gallatin’s, Bridger’s, Crazies, and front range of the Absarokas are caught in a crossfire of climate change and human population growth. It is not surprising that Gallatin County, for example, is now the fastest growing county in Montana, and that Bozeman is the fastest growing small city in the United States. This population increase has the potential to significantly impact the ecosystem – and its robust wildlife populations.
It is essential that we save what is left. With the assault on public lands by politicians in Washington, it has become ever more vital to designate as much Wilderness as possible.
Please come and learn about the areas of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem that need to be protected and understand why Wilderness is crucial in this time of increasing human impacts.
Join us at the Lindley Center, 1102 E. Curtiss. We will gather at 6:45 with the program starting at 7:00.
Check out our website gallatinyellowstonewilderness.org Use this link to read an excellent article by George https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/09/27/gold-standard-for-the-gallatins/
Climate Strike - September 20, 2019
The Bozeman community participated in a global event on a rainy and cool march on September 20, 2019. Millions of people across the world marched for action in fighting climate change and citizens of Bozeman were no different. It is estimated that at least 250 people attended the rain-soaked event and that is pretty good for a community of the size of Bozeman, Montana. GWA was proud to have board members and GWA members attend this event. This being only a small sample of the kind of action and events GWA is doing in its advocation for wildlife and protection of a greater biodiversity here in southwest Montana and around the world.
Pictures provided by Glenn Monahan of GWA.
To View GWA's comments on the Custer Gallatin National Forest Revised Forest Plan, look here.
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!
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.
GWA's Support for
GWA would like to thank Montanans for Safe Wildlife Passage (MSWP) and Center for Large Landscape Conservation (CLLC) for providing these videos on wildlife crossings. GWA has long been a proponent of furthering wildlife connectivity and stories such as these in Nevada and Washington are examples of what could be done here in Montana. We would like to see more attention given to these success stories and to that effort, GWA is a proud member of MSWP. For the reason of habitat and corridor fragmentation, wildlife is being prevented from reaching their normal range and habitat. The Wildland Urban Interface is taking its toll on wildlife and because of that it is magnifying the need for big ideas.
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
Pictures were taken by Clint Nagel over a period of time to show the various complexities facing wildlife crossings and the wildland urban interface.
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 MSWP 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.