The Custer Gallatin National Forest (CGNF) in Southwest Montana is currently revising their Forest Plan, a process that last took place in the mid-80s. This planning results in guidance for management across the entire Forest for years to come. Although the plan does not address particular trails or routes, it does address the particular types of uses that will be permitted or not in certain areas of the Forest – including mountain biking. Part of the Forest Plan revision process includes the release of a “Proposed Action,” which is a document provided to give the public an opportunity to comment and/or provide suggestions and feedback on potential management prescriptions for the Forest, before a final Revised Forest Plan is issued. If you are interested in reading through the document and related materials yourself, you can check them out here.
What’s at Stake for Mountain Biking
The Proposed Action, as drafted, prohibits biking in Recommended Wilderness. This includes nearly 18,000 acres in the Lionhead area, where mountain biking is currently allowed. What will change if this proposal becomes final in its current form is the way that the Lionhead and other Recommended Wilderness within CGNF will be managed moving forward, specifically prohibiting “mechanized travel” (including mountain bikes) – most specifically in the Sheep Creek and Coffin Creek areas (referenced in the proposal document p.93 part FW-SUIT-RWA-04). This is some of the best high-elevation, backcountry riding in the west. Period.
How Can I Help?
By submitting a public comment to the Custer Gallatin Forest Service, you can make a meaningful difference in just a few short minutes. Comments must be received before March 5th. If the Lionhead is not an area that you ride or have ever ridden, remember that plans like the one under consideration are often used to support future plans and decisions in other areas like our backyard here on the Bridger-Teton or the Caribou-Targhee.
Click here to submit your comment.
Our friends at the Southwest Montana Mountain Bike Association (SWMMBA) have put together some great resources, talking points and tips on effective comment-writing. Remember to submit your comment before March 5th!