IN THE MAIL

Wilderness forgotten in
Forest Service’s draft forest plan

Editor:

Shame on the Forest Service for its paltry Wilderness recommendations in its draft Forest Plan. I support the Montanans for Gallatin Wilderness proposal for a 230,000 acre Gallatin Range Wilderness, not the Forest Service plan for just a little over a third of this magnificent roadless area. The Gallatin Range is the largest remaining roadless area in the core Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, and Wilderness designation is the best way to protect what might be the best remaining vulnerable wildlife habitat in the lower 48 states!

It is also an insult to our world-renowned wildlands and wildlife habitat that the Forest Service fails to recommend Wilderness designation for hundreds of thousands of acres of roadless habitat in the Crazy Mountains, the Bridgers, the Madison Range (potential additions to the Lee Metcalf Wilderness), and numerous logical roadless additions to the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, among many other deserving still wild areas.

But don’t expect the Montana Wilderness Association, the Greater Yellowstone Coalition or The Wilderness Society to save the day. They’ve compromised with anti-wilderness mechanized recreation groups to such an extent that their “Wilderness” proposals are too small to fully protect sensitive wildlife habitats. Why won’t they support the grassroots 230,000 acre Gallatin Range Wilderness proposal or Wilderness designation for so many other areas? Apparently, they don’t want to offend anyone, including the Forest Service and funders who demand extreme compromise.

Please make your voice heard. It is never too late to let the Forest Service and our politicians know that you support Wilderness designation for all of the remaining wildlands that qualify. It’s the least we can do for the great habitat that supports all of the great wildlife of the Greater Yellowstone.

Howie Wolke
Emigrant
Writer supports
Gallatin Forest Partnership

Editor:

I am writing today in support of the Gallatin Forest Partnership agreement. This is a recommendation to the Custer Gallatin National Forest in their ongoing work toward a new forest plan. There are many points of view represented in this agreement, including horsemen, hunters, fishermen, hikers, skiers, mountain bikers, guest ranch managers, wilderness advocates, and many other forest users.

The strength of this recommendation is in the number of different points of view represented, the ability of these people to see the other side’s point of view and not just their own. People came to a middle ground and found a way forward, together. This is not a common occurrence in America today. The Forest Service’s task now is to come up with a set of alternatives for the public to consider. I believe that the recommendation of the Gallatin Forest Partnership is a viable alternative for this plan.

It is easy to do nothing and criticize, to be uncompromising and rigid. We will be criticized and belittled. My hope is the reasonable people will read the agreement (gallatinpartners.org) and support it for what it is: the best solution for our forest that we can all recommend.

John Greene
President, Livingston Bike Club
Thanks to the BLM for deferring oil
and gas leases in Park County

Editor:

As a former oil and gas employee and a long-time Livingston resident, I was thrilled to learn that the Bureau of Land Management listened to our concerns and decided to defer oil and gas leases in our community. The BLM’s decision to defer the leases located on the bench south of town from the oil and gas sale wouldn’t have happened if the public didn’t voice its concerns and inform the BLM of the significant environmental, social and economic consequences that would result from oil and gas development in this special corner of Montana. I am hopeful that the BLM will recognize that a one-size fits all environmental analysis does not work in every situation, and that oil and gas development is not always the best interest of local and regional communities. I applaud the BLM’s quick decision to defer the sale of these leases pending further analysis, and I applaud our City Commission’s effort to help inform the BLM about our community’s concerns. I encourage our concerned residents, representatives and the public at large to continue to be engaged in the process to ensure that our public lands are managed responsibly.”

Jeannette Blank
Energy/permitting/policy specialist
Livingston

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