EcoFlight

The Lionhead Recommended Wilderness near West Yellowstone, Montana, is part of the Custer Gallatin National Forest, May 31, 2019.
Rachel Cramer / Yellowstone Public Radio

The future of a forest stretching from West Yellowstone to South Dakota is reaching a pivotal point this week. The public comment period for the Custer Gallatin National Forest draft plan closes June 6, and the perspectives on forest management seem to be almost as diverse as the forest itself. One of the main areas of debate is recommended wilderness.

From above, the northern Flathead Valley is a patchwork of yellow fields of canola, green tracts of grains and wandering curves of cerulean rivers. Heavily forested mountains erupt from the valley floor, some of them still scared by clear cut logging from decades ago.

"This area obviously has got multi-uses," says Bruce Gordon, a pilot for EcoFlight, a nonprofit based in Colorado that uses flyovers in small aircraft to advocate for protecting wildlands.

He’s in Whitefish this week to fly western governors over northwest Montana, to give them a visual as they talk this week about land management.