A New Forest Plan for The Custer Gallatin National Forest

Mariah Leuschen-Lonergan   |   Monday Feb. 1st, 2016

What is it that you love about Bozeman? Somewhere in the mix open space, public lands, outdoors or trails likely pop up. Surrounding Bozeman we are fortunate to have nearly 3.1 million acres of National Forest System Lands with the Custer Gallatin National Forest.

Mountain biking, trailing running, horseback riding, snowmobiling, motorsports and much more are available to us.

We live in a place many vacation to, and as such the Custer Gallatin National Forest operates one of the largest recreation programs in Montana, while also being one of the top visited Forests in the Nation and an integral part of the overall greater ecosystem of our Nation’s first national park.  

Day after day we may utilize our National Forest System Lands far more than we realize. In mid-January the Custer Gallatin National Forest kicked off a four-year process called Forest Plan Revision. A forest plan is the guiding foundational document for what we do on National Forest System Lands.  

As the vision or guiding direction for the National Forest for a decade or more to come, it is an excellent opportunity to become involved in shaping the vision of where the Custer Gallatin National Forest will go in future years.
National Forest System Lands exist to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the Nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. In the coming years, the forest plan is one of the best opportunities to participate in shaping that direction.

As part of the process we will work with local governments, citizens, and our communities that we work and play in, to serve the public as stewards on these lands.  
The forest plan revision process will have several opportunities for public involvement over the four years.

The first round of public meetings will begin February 22 – March 10, with a forest plan revision introduction and orientation. A second set of informational meetings coupled with some findings of our assessment of existing conditions is planned for June.     

Visit your local library to view a master copy of either the Custer 1986 forest plan or the Gallatin 1987 forest plan, along with the 2012 Forest Plan Directives. (Libraries include:  Bozeman, West Yellowstone, Livingston, Gardiner, Big Timber, Red Lodge, Billings, Colstrip and Ekalaka MT and Buffalo, SD). The information is also available for download or reading online.  

As part of our kickoff meetings, this will be the first chance to share your local knowledge, current conditions, trends, perceptions and concerns. We welcome your perspective.

So what’s useful?  A couple examples:
• Trends of existing conditions, for example bird counts conducted in scientific manner
• Peer-reviewed studies and research
• Expert opinion, panel consensus, inventories or observational data
• Data prepared by other agencies.
Values can also inform the greater process. While they may or may not
be directly applicable to the assessment phase, many values are useful to consider in developing the plan and throughout the greater process.
Stay up-to-date on the process by opting in for electronic updates
and visiting www.fs.usda.gov/custergallatin and clicking on the right-hand quick link.