Interim Summer Use Management Strategy Announced for Wilderness Study Area

Contact(s): Marna Daley (406) 587-6703, (406) 570-5526


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Bozeman, MT… Beginning May 2010 the Gallatin National Forest will implement an interim summer use management strategy for the Hyalite Porcupine Buffalo Horn (HPBH) Wilderness Study Area (WSA). The strategy responds to a Court ruling which remanded the Gallatin National Forest’s Travel Management Plan Decision (2006) in the HPBH WSA. The WSA is located south of Bozeman and contains the Gallatin Crest area. It is bordered on the west side by Gallatin Canyon, on the east by the Paradise Valley, and on the south by Yellowstone National Park.
The September 2009 Court ruling stated the Forest’s Travel Plan Decision met its mandate to balance competing uses but failed to adequately maintain 1977 era wilderness character within the WSA. The Forest’s intent with the interim management strategy for summer use is to comply with the court’s order while providing some level of motorcycle and mountain bike use as allowed under the Wilderness Study Act.
In determining how to comply with the Court’s ruling to preserve wilderness character within the WSA, the Forest focused on providing non-motorized opportunities within the central portion of the area and concentrated use on trails near the WSA perimeter, closer to population centers of Big Sky and Bozeman. The Twin Cabin, South Cottonwood, History Rock, Blackmore, Donahue and Hyalite trails will remain open to mountain bikes. The Storm Castle, East Fork Hyalite, Hidden Lakes, First Creek, Porcupine Creek, Ramshorn Lake, Porcupine, Elkhorn, and Buffalo Horn trails will remain open to motorcycles and mountain bikes. All 205 miles of trail in the WSA remain open to foot and stock users.
This is a reduction in trails open to motorcycles and mountain bikes from the travel plan decision from about 70 miles to 40 miles from. Trails open only to mountain bikes will be reduced from about 170 miles to 20 miles. The Travel Plan Decision for all areas on the Forest outside of the WSA remains in place.
The Forest Service has appealed Judge Malloy’s ruling because managers believe that the travel plan decision provides the most appropriate way to manage this area.
“We understand the impacts these restrictions will cause mountain bike and motorcycle enthusiasts. Because the Court said the amount of motorized and mechanized use the Forest allowed in the WSA did not maintain the 1977 era wilderness character there were few options other than to further limit use areas,” said Mary Erickson, Gallatin Forest Supervisor.
“The Court’s decision clearly states that the Judge does not believe a solution to this issue can be found through additional environmental analysis. It also acknowledged the untenable position the agency is now placed in given Congress’s intent to act on the Wilderness Study Act during the mid-1980s,” continued Erickson. “We encourage all recreation user groups to work together, with the agency, and the state’s elected delegation to determine appropriate long-term management for the WSA.”
For additional information please visit us online at www.fs.fed.us/r1/gallatin or contact the Gallatin National Forest Office nearest you.
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https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/custergallatin/news-events/?cid=STELPRDB5150544