Strategy for the Gallatin Range Event
From the towering Hyalite
Peaks near Bozeman to the Madison River valley near West Yellowstone,
the verdant and diverse Gallatin Range forms the spine of
an unbroken roadless wildland of over a half million acres,
unsurpassed in rugged beauty and teeming with native fish
and wildlife. The wild Gallatins are a vital component of
the world-renowned Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE).
All that separates the 325,000 acre Southern
Gallatin backcountry within Yellowstone National Park from
the Northern Gallatin Range, a 200,000 acre roadless wildland
within the Gallatin National Forest, is a line on a map. In
other words, despite management by two different federal agencies,
the Gallatin Range is one contiguous roadless wildland.
Unfortunately, all is not well. Yellowstone's
Southern Gallatin backcountry is threatened by new government
proposals to de-emphasize conservation. An explosion of motor
vehicle abuse by snow machines, motorcycles, and four-wheel
all terrain vehicles (ATV's) has already disrupted and degraded
many parts of the Northern Gallatins, where future proposals
for industrial logging and road building are likely. In other
words, we are slowly and tragically losing one of America's
premiere unprotected roadless wildlands. But you can help
to reverse this trend!
to the late Senator Lee Metcalf, in 1977 Congress enacted
S-393, the Montana Wilderness Study Areas Act. In this legislation
(along with 9 other national forest wildlands), 150,000 acres
of the Northern Gallatins were designated as a Wilderness
Study Area (WSA). WSA's are to be managed to maintain at least
the level of wilderness character that existed in 1977, until
Congress either designates areas Wilderness or specifies other
Despite the law, under Forest Service
management, motorized abuse and associated resource damage
have proliferated, both within and outside the official WSA.
Wilderness character has declined. Also, an illegal logging
road was bulldozed into the heart of the WSA in the Rock Creek
drainage, and the Forest Service made little attempt to fix
the damage. Nor was there any attempt to prosecute the perpetrators.
Clearly, the rich and wild Gallatins need permanent protection!