The Gallatin Forest Partnership’s plan came out. 

When it’s time, Montanans come to the table. Usually, we’re hoping it’s the time for dinner… but we’ll come for discussions as well.

A broad group of Montanans who use the Custer Gallatin National Forest has come together to share a vision for major portions of the forest from the Bozeman area to Yellowstone National Park, offering a plan they say will balance the importance of land, water, wildlife and the growing recreational needs of this corner of the state.

Climbing in Gallatin Forest by Louise Johns

The plan, from Gallatin Forest Partnership, was drafted by dozens of people and groups in southwest Montana, including Montana Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, Livingston Bike Club, Gallatin Valley Backcountry Horsemen, and Lone Mountain Ranch in Big Sky. After decades of back and forth, compromise and respectful (but passionate) conversations, partners made sure all Montanans’ needs for clean drinking water, diverse fish and wildlife habitats, recreational activities, mitigation of invasive weeds and economic benefits were accounted for.

The partnership will be submitting its compromise as a public comment to the Forest Service as the Forest Service plans for the future of the Gallatin Range, Crazy Mountains, Pryor Mountains, and other areas in the Custer Gallatin Forest.

Biking in Bear Canyon, Gallatin Forest. Photo by Danny Janes.

“This agreement demonstrates the importance of mountain bikers, conservationists, hunters, anglers and everyone who cares about the land working together to find common ground,” said Tom Owen, Big Sky Mountain Bike Alliance and owner of Gallatin Alpine Sports. “We’ve succeeded in protecting the mountain bike trails we ride today and ensuring public lands will continue to support healthy wildlife and our outdoor lifestyle far into the future.”

If adopted by the U.S. Forest Service, this plan would allow everyone in this corner of Montana to use their public lands in their favorite way. Horsemen can use it without worrying about bikers, hikers can use it to see wildlife on the important corridors, bikers can use it and not worry about getting yelled at by anyone for going too fast. Those who like a throttle over a hiking boot or bike pedal will still get to enjoy all the access they already love.

Kelly Balfanz on a spring sled day.

The Gallatin Forest Partnership respects all recreation activities that exist in the Custer Gallatin Forest. Everyone gets a space. And no existing activities will be taken away.

Any individual can submit their own commit on the Custer Gallatin Forest Plan to the Forest Service here. Comment period ends March 5.

The finalized agreement can be found here. If you would like to show your support for the Gallatin Forest partnership, please follow this link!



-Andie Creel

Feature photo by Louise Johns. Additional photo by Danny Janes.

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