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Custer Gallatin National Forest finalizes new management plan

A photo of Hyalite Peak in Custer Gallatin National Forest taken in July 2020.
Rachel Cramer
Yellowstone Public Radio/File photo
Hyalite Peak in Custer Gallatin National Forest

The Custer Gallatin National Forest finalized a plan on Friday that will guide forest management over 3 million acres in Montana and South Dakota for the next 10 to 15 years.

Custer Gallatin National Forest includes protected wilderness areas, hiking and other recreation opportunities and rare deposits of minerals like platinum and palladium at the Stillwater Mine.

The new plan designates more than 139,000 acres as recommended wilderness, including land in the Madison Range’s Cowboy Heaven area and most of the Gallatin Range’s Hyalite Porcupine Buffalo Horn Wilderness Study Area.

Recommended wilderness areas will receive consideration before Congress for permanent protection.

It’s been 35 years since the forest service last updated the document. The service received more than 21,000 public comments, which Custer Gallatin National Forest Supervisor Mary Erickson said included diverse opinions, many that touched on bison and recommended wilderness areas.

The document provides disease prevention plans for bighorn sheep, supports a year-round bison population and directs conservation efforts toward recovering at-risk species like the grizzly bear and whitebark pine.

Kayla writes about energy policy, the oil and gas industry and new electricity developments.