Wildlife Advocates for Southwestern Montana
A New Year's Message:
To state the obvious, we are in challenging times as we enter into this new year. For those involved in the environmental community, that is an understatement of our new year. 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).
There will be many challenges facing us here in southwestern Montana; challenges that will demand our time, grit and money. Already in the first 6 months of this new year, the list is long and the commitment must be strong in order to counter what is before us. One big challenge is to comment on the final draft of Custer Gallatin National Forest Revised Forest Plan. There are many issues incorporated in the draft, as one would imagine that affect the future of wildlife. Climate change, wilderness areas, the use of recreational vehicles and more are to name a few. All of these will affect the habitat, the food supply, and the access if not the availability of wildlife corridors.
The use of categorical exclusions as a pretense for forest health projects needs to be challenged and seems to be the new “thing” in weakening the traditional protections, protections we perhaps took for granted. Akin to that, is the actual move by the Trump administration to further weaken NEPA standards. Trying to get the Forest Service to consider other species as “species of conservation concern” is going to be hard enough, but it doesn’t stop there. Species like bighorn sheep, moose, wolverine and many others are literally just hanging on to existence. Once and if we get these other species to be considered as “species of conservation concern”, then we have to do the hard work to protect them and their habitat.
But the work continues on. GWA is proud to host and sponsor the 5th or 6th (whose counting) annual Bozeman Wild and Scenic Film Festival this February. This is our only major fundraising effort during the year and we need participation by members and the community. Needless to say, 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 one that protects the “wild” in wildlife on our lands. If you agree, again please join us.
Clint Nagel, President
Gallatin Wildlife Association
Come One and All to the
Bozeman's Community Wild and Scenic Film Festival
February 18, 2020
Gallatin Wildlife Association's meeting of December 3rd with
Save the Yellowstone Grizzly
was a success!
Save the Yellowstone Grizzly (STYG) provided an informative and emotional presentation on the evening of December 3rd, 2019 before a packed house at Bozeman's Library. David Buth and Vanessa Chavarriaga of Save the Yellowstone Grizzly gave the presentation and shared with the audience a film entitled "Grizzly Country". That film will be shared here, below as we obtained the link from YouTube. Afterwards, we were honored to have founder Doug Peacock and Lance Craighead in our presence to take part of a question and answer period.
Notes from the Meeting will be shared here.
Notes from December 3, 2019
Save the Yellowstone Grizzly
Grizzly can’t take a single season of trophy hunting.
White Bark Pine are functionally gone-95% of WBP are gone because of Climate change. What can we do; save habitat. WBP are not coming back and there is no comparable replacement. There is some experimental planting of disease resistant WBP, but it takes over 80 years for them to be cone bearing.
The grizzly habitat is expanding because of lack of food, and humans need to adapt. Most people think that habitat expansion means population expansion; that is not true, the population is not expanding.
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 2019 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.