the northern Gallatins, including the WSA, increasing numbers
of off road motorized recreationists have damaged the land,
stressed wildlife, and shattered the silence. Erosion, stream
sedimentation, destruction of native vegetation, soil compaction,
an increasing profusion of unmanaged user-created motor trails,
wildlife harassment, poaching and the probable disruption
of denning wilderness-dependent species such as lynx and wolverine
are documented problems. Also, as increasing numbers of hunters
on ORV's easily penetrate formerly remote areas, quality hunts
via foot and horseback become elusive. Tougher restrictions
including shorter seasons and reduced hunting opportunities
will inevitably result.
Off road vehicles also are
documented to import noxious weed seeds and they create perfect
substrates for weed germination by denuding vegetation and
exposing soil. Although there are recent indications that
the Forest Service has recognized the off road motor vehicle
problem by proposing minor restrictions in some parts of the
range, this unique wildland deserves full protection from
damaging uses, not a bit here and a bit there.
In addition, without Wilderness
designation, large-scale logging proposals with associated
roads, timber landings and heavy machinery are nearly inevitable.
History has proven, time and again, that public wildlands
lacking statutory protection almost invariably become utilized
for industrial resource extraction and development.
Even in the Southern Gallatins,
within Yellowstone, the future of the area's unique wilderness
character is increasingly tenuous. No backcountry is safe
from potential ill-advised new roads and development. A recent
government proposal for all national parks would de-emphasize
conservation in favor of motorized recreation and constructed
amenities. This argues for statutory Wilderness designation
both for the Southern Gallatins and for the rest of Yellowstone
National Park's superb backcountry, too. This is why we propose
a unified unbroken Gallatin Range Wilderness of 546,000 acres,
including both the National Park and National Forest sections
of this magnificent mountain domain.