Issues: Wild Lands, Wildlife
Partners: Gallatin Forest Partnership, The Wilderness Society
Airport Origin : Bozeman, MT
EcoFlight, the Wilderness Society, and the Gallatin Forest Partnership created a virtual flight over the Gallatin and Madison Ranges where they are working others to protect about 230,000 acres of wild backcountry on the Custer Gallatin National Forest.
After decades of conflict over management of this much-loved landscape, Montanans have come together over a shared connection to this landscape to develop a proposal that maintains current recreation access and protects the undeveloped wild landscape, clean water and wildlife habitat everyone values. They are asking the Forest Service to adopt this proposal as part of their land management plan.
On our flight, we specifically looked at Cowboy Heaven and South Cottonwood Creek, two important areas of the plan as we look at the increasing pressures placed on our public lands as surrounding communities are growing exponentially.
The forest, sage brush and grassland habitats of Cowboy Heaven are a unique ecological bridge between the dry Bear Trap Canyon and the high alpine Spanish Peaks. The Gallatin Forest Partnership wants to recommend Cowboy Heaven as wilderness in its management plan to finally connect these two wilderness areas as Senator Lee Metcalf originally envisioned.
South Cottonwood Creek in the Northern Gallatin Range remains an undeveloped refuge for wildlife between two areas that have historically been disturbed by logging and roads. The headwaters here offer a wild, remote place for hikers to experience quiet and solitude close to the growing city of Bozeman. In its proposed management plan, the Forest Service left S. Cottonwood unprotected and identified it as an area for future commercial logging. The Gallatin Forest Partnership wants the Forest Service to designate S. Cottonwood as a backcountry area in its management plan to protect the natural, undeveloped qualities of this special place.