Draft Environmental Impact Statement Available for Public Comment
By Moosetrack Megan

Posted: March 12, 2019

Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service released the draft revised land management plan and draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Custer Gallatin National Forest for public review and comment.  The revised plan has the potential to add as many as 400 new jobs to the region and as much as $20 million in additional labor income.  The plan will also support work with state partners, Tribes, communities and stakeholders in setting priorities for investments for active landscape management, emphasizing vegetation and wildlife conservation in the right locations and with the right tools; while balancing sustainable mining, grazing, forest products and recreation industries.  Each action alternative details the desired conditions, standards, guidelines and objectives that would provide the foundation of future management activities across the forest for the next 15 years or more.

Previous land management plans were developed for the Custer National Forest in 1986 and the Gallatin National Forest in 1987. Since then, the forests were administratively consolidated, and the region has experienced growth, shifts in recreation trends, and changed forest conditions. These changes made it clear that revisions to the existing plans needed to be made.  Currently the Custer Gallatin National Forest supports roughly 5,400 jobs that contribute $232 million in annual labor income to surrounding communities, from top sectors including recreation, mining and grazing.

Land management plans provide direction for how public lands are managed in the long-term. These plans are informed by an inclusive and transparent process that involves the communities, publics, and partners affected by the plan.

Since the planning process began in January 2016, there have been more than 80 community meetings and public webinars to shape the draft plan and draft EIS. Custer Gallatin Forest Supervisor Mary Erickson says that the four action alternatives outlined in the draft plan are the product of the feedback received from those meetings, as well as the latest science and specialists’ expertise. Written and electronic comments will be accepted for 90 days after publication of the Notice of Availability in the Federal Register. All project documents, including instructions on how to comment, are on the Forest Plan Revision website.

“We need specific feedback from our public and these documents are lengthy and detailed,” Erickson said, “so we aim to help everyone better understand the process, content of the plan and what changes we have made.”

This outreach will include 10 resource-specific podcasts, eight webinars, and 10 public meetings throughout the comment period.  These public meetings include:

  • April 3 – Bozeman, MT from 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. at Hilton Garden Inn
  • April 4 – West Yellowstone, MT from 6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. at West Yellowstone Chamber of Commerce
  • April 8 – Ashland, MT from 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. at TRECO (Tongue River Electric Cooperative, (2435 Hwy 212, Ashland, MT)
  • April 9 – Camp Crook, SD – from 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. at Camp Crook Community Center (203 Main Street, Camp Crook, SD)
  • April 10 – Billings, MT – from 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. at Bighorn Resort Broso/Bighorn Rooms (1801 Majestic Lane, Billings, MT)
  • April 11 – Red Lodge, MT from 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. Roosevelt Center Community Room (519 S. Broadway Ave, Red Lodge, MT)
  • April 22 – Big Timber, MT from 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. at the Sweet Grass County Extension Office (515 Hooper Street, Big Timber, MT)
  • April 22 – Livingston, MT from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Yellowstone Pioneer Lodge (1515 W. Park Street, Livingston, MT)
  • April 23 – Cooke City, MT from 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. at the Cooke City Chamber of Commerce Community Room (206 W Main Street, Cooke City, MT)
  • April 23 – Gardiner, MT from 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. at the Gardiner Community Center (209 W. Main Street, Gardiner, MT)

Maps and other materials will be available for review at public meetings, and planning team members will be available to answer questions. The location and schedule of these meetings will be published in local newspapers and can be found on the Custer Gallatin National Forest website at www.fs.usda.gov/custergallatin and click on Forest Plan Revision, then Draft Plan/Draft Environmental Impact Statement review.

“We manage these lands on behalf of the American people, which is why it’s incredibly important for them to help us design this plan,” Erickson said. “There is no magic answer, but we’re hoping to balance people’s values on the landscape, while maintaining the long-term sustainability of our resources.”

Documents are available in hard copy at:

Bicentennial Library of Colstrip                                       Big Sky Community Library
Billings Public Library                                                     Bozeman Public Library
Carnegie Public Library (Big Timber)                              Cooke City Chamber of Commerce             
Ekalaka Public Library                                                     Gardiner Public Library        
Harding County Library (Buffalo, SD)                            Henry Malley Memorial Library (Broadus)
Livingston Public Library                                                 Red Lodge Carnegie Library          
Stillwater County Library (Columbus, MT)                    West Yellowstone Public Library

For more information, contact Mariah Leuschen-Lonergan at 406-587-6735.

Webinar dates include:

Thursday, March 14 from 5:30 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Tuesday, March 19 from 1:30 p.m. – 3:00 pm.
Monday, April 15 from 5:00 pm. – 6:30 p.m.
Thursday, April 25 from 3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Wednesday, May 1 from 4:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Thursday, May 9 from 1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Thursday, May 16 from 9:15 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.
Tuesday, May 21 from 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Resource Specific Podcasts will drop March 18, 2019 for downloading and listening at: outLANDish by Your Forests, Your Future

Go Directly to Download Documents and Public Involvement Page – Upcoming Meetings

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