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The movement to preserve Montana’s Gallatin Mountains, which stretch north from Yellowstone National Park, has been ongoing since the passage of the Wilderness Act in 1964. Largely undeveloped, the range’s sinuous, rocky crest, fertile meadows and thick lodgepole forests are vital to one of the earth’s last intact temperate ecosystems. The landscape provides refuge to rare populations of grizzly bears, elk, bighorn sheep, wolves and wolverines. Yet, the Gallatins remain the last major mountain range bordering the nation’s first and most iconic national park without congressionally designated wilderness. The closest the Gallatins came to being protected as wilderness was in the fall of 1988, when Montana’s former representative Pat Williams successfully steered legislation through Congress. However, President Regan refused to sign the bill. Now, over 30 years later, as the Custer Gallatin National Forest updates its forest plan for the first time in a generation, a group of mountain bikers, hunters, mountain guides, horsemen, dude ranchers and wilderness advocates think they have the support and momentum to finally preserve the range as wilderness. For the first time ever, the Forest Service is poised to recommend that the core of the range be managed as wilderness, and a new legislative campaign is about to begin. This story follows community members, who are both for and against a Gallatin Wilderness proposal, as they share their values and visions for the future of the landscape. Along the way, the story examines the history of the wilderness movement in the Gallatins, collaborative planning efforts on the forest and the complex politics of passing a wilderness bill in Congress.
Gallatin Mountains, Forest Plan, U.S. Forest Service, Wilderness
Pavkovich, Anthony Stephen, "THE WILD THAT REMAINS: A ONCE IN A GENERATION FOREST PLAN REIGNITES THE WILDERNESS DEBATE IN MONTANA’S GALLATIN RANGE" (2021). Graduate Student Portfolios, Papers, and Capstone Projects. 297.
© Copyright 2021 Anthony Stephen Pavkovich