For Immediate Release
July 9, 2020
Phil Knight 406 209 4727
Joseph Scalia 406-580-2235
GYWA disappointed with new Custer Gallatin Forest Plan, expresses concern over future of forest.
Gallatin Yellowstone Wilderness Alliance board President Joseph Scalia today expressed severe disappointment with the Custer Gallatin National Forest Plan, released today by the US Forest Service.
“While we are glad to see some Recommended Wilderness in the new plan, the Forest Service has dropped the ball on protecting this imperiled landscape. They only recommend about one hundred twenty six thousand acres of Wilderness out of over eight hundred thousand acres of wild country. Catering to high speed forms of recreation as the Plan does, is a reckless approach to conservation, and invites our wild country becoming as degraded as other parts of the West that have been managed in this way. We are not Colorado, but this Plan is moving us in that direction.”
Out of thirty nine possible wilderness recommendations, the Forest Service chose only seven.
“Some of us have been urging the federal government to do more to protect these lands for at least thirty years. Now we get a few token wilderness areas. The Forest Service wants well over four hundred thousand acres dedicated to high-impact mechanized and motorized recreation.”
Phil Knight, GYWA board member, said “The Bridger Mountains did not get one acre of wilderness. Cowboys Heaven was completely left out. And the Lionhead area, which had 22,000 acres recommended in the 1986 Forest Plan, gets nothing. You mean to tell me every acre of Lionhead is no longer wild? So what happened in the interim? I’ll tell you what happened – the Forest Service failed to protect its own recommended wilderness and left it open to mechanized recreation.”
Nancy Ostlie, also a GYWA board member, was also concerned about the lack of Recommended Wilderness in the new Plan. “The Forest Service won’t even try to protect the Hyalite Porcupine Buffalo Horn Wilderness Study Area in its entirety. The law requires that the WSA lands be managed for inclusion as Wilderness, but they have dropped major portions as sacrifice zones for motorized and mechanized play.
Knight explained, “This stellar national forest covers much of the northern end of the world-renowned Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Unlike most parts of the world we still have all our native mammals, like grizzlies and wolverines, as well as large herds of elk and mule deer. We may take it for granted but this is some of the best wildlife habitat in the world. That should be the focus of this new plan. Or we risk losing much of the world-class wildlife and wilderness on the Custer Gallatin.”