North Hebgen Multiple Resource Project
The CGWG formally began collaborating and interfacing with the Forest Service in 2015 on the North Hebgen Multiple Resource project. The CGWG members educated themselves and the local community by organizing several informational meetings, which brought in speakers that were experts on topics such as silviculture, Grizzly bear and ungulate habitat and fire prevention and mitigation. The group attended all Forest Service (FS) informational meetings and field trips. CGWG members had numerous meetings with the District Ranger to further understand the multidimensional aspects of the project. This education and information gathering process culminated in the CGWG writing comments to the Draft Environmental Assessment, with emphasis on four aspects of the project: Highway 191 Treatment, Reduction in Temporary Roads, Whitebark Pine Monitoring, and No Net Gain of Invasive Weeds.
Smith Shields Project
The Smith Shields project area is located in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI), identified by the Park and Meagher County Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPPs), both of which identify the need for future projects in this area to reduce hazardous fuels. All NFS lands where management activities would take place are classified as Management Areas (MA) 8, 11 and 99 in the current Gallatin Forest Plan where MA 8 consists of lands suitable for timber management; MA 11 consists of productive forest lands available for timber harvest as long as big game habitat objectives are met; and MA 99 consists of lands acquired by the Forest Service after the 1987 Forest Plan. Forest-wide standards and adjacent management area direction is being applied to MA 99. We understand and appreciate that none of the Smith Shields project-related activities are proposed inside any wilderness areas, wilderness study areas, national recreation areas, inventoried roadless areas, or research natural areas so there will be no effect to roadless characteristics or recreation experiences in any such areas.
The members of the CGWG appreciate the communication and written environmental assessments we have received from the USFS on this proposed project. We believe the interdisciplinary planning completed by the USFS has resulted in a project that is ecologically sound and improves the protection of private property and public safety in this area of wildland urban interface. We also believe the forest management and mitigation measures planning by the USFS are appropriate.
Custer Gallatin Forest Plan Revision
The CGWG has focused on three major aspects of the Forest Plan Revision. We continue to gather information through various resources including the Forest Service and other organizations on regulations for recommended wilderness, wild and scenic rivers and desired forest conditions.
The CGWG has become better informed about how those regulations work and the potential impacts on forest management from those forthcoming decisions and designations. As the Forest Service provides their initial mappings for wild and scenic rivers and recommended wilderness this coming month of July 2017, the CGWG will collaborate on those issues to make our recommendations. The CGWG is working to develop principals for considering lands for recommended wilderness such as proximity to the Wildlands Urban Interface and significant man made facilities and infrastructure, as well as access.
North Bridger Project
The North Bridger forest health project was originally introduced to the CGWG as the Bridger Bangtails project in early 2016. As the North Hebgen subcommittee concludes its work, another subcommittee will be organized to analyze the North Bridger project.