Thursday, March 14, 2019

There will be plenty of other places we can ride our machines


I’ve been privileged to have spent the past 30 years working to conserve the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, including co-authoring, “An Environmental Profile of Greater Yellowstone” and “Sustaining Greater Yellowstone: A Blueprint for the Future.”

But I’m the first to admit that its future as an intact wildland ecosystem is uncertain.

Because of this concern, I want to go on record supporting full Wilderness designation for the Wilderness Study Areas of the Gallatin Range, not the significantly reduced Wilderness proposal of the Gallatin Forest Partnership (GFP).

If I thought the GFP incorporated good science and prioritized ecological health of the Gallatin Range as its overarching goal, I would be enthused about their proposal. As it now stands, they are compromising the most important landscapes in the Range by not recommending them as Wilderness. Not only do they leave out critical wildlife habitat like the Porcupine Buffalo Horn drainages from their proposed Wilderness, they recommend building more trails in places like West Pine Creek which even they admit could negatively impact wildlife.

I now avoid going to public lands open to mountain bikes like the West Pine Creek trail because of the bike traffic. I suspect that wildlife does too. I suggest that the proponents of the Gallatin Partnership become more familiar with the latest science on recreational impacts on natural ecosystems. They are significant and growing.

What do we want this region — particularly our public lands — to be like 10, 20, 30 years down the road? Do we want them to remain truly wild landscapes which have been a hallmark of Montana? Or do we want them to become just outdoor gymnasiums and playgrounds like those in Colorado or Utah?

Please tell the Forest Service to recommend 230,000 acres for Wilderness designation in the Gallatin Range including the Buffalo Horn/Porcupine and West Pine Creek drainages. And voice your support for Alternative D in the draft Custer Gallatin Forest Plan. Future generations of humans and wildlife will be grateful. And there will be plenty of other places we can ride our machines.

Dennis Glick