A series of misinformed logging and intensifying recreation projects in the northern Gallatin Range and on the east face of the Bridger Range threatens to sever the one remaining corridor that links the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem with areas further north.

The proposed Limestone West Timber Sale on the Gallatin Face will eliminate the last remaining relatively untouched forested area connecting the Gallatin Range south of i-90 corridor with the Bridger Range to the north. The Montana Dept of Natural Resources (MDNR) logging proposal may result in as much as 9 miles of new roads and logging of 600 acres. Keep in mind that disturbance of wildlife goes well beyond the road corridor or areas with logging.

Just across I-90 the Gallatin National Forest (GNF) has decided to go ahead with its North Bridger Timber sale which would log and road much of the land that previously was unlogged.

Meanwhile, the Gallatin National Forest proposes in its Forest Plan to intensity recreation in the Hyalite drainage, while the Gallatin Forest Partnership proposes intensifying recreation, particularly more mountain biking trails in the West Pine Creek drainage just south of the Limestone West area.

What all of this means is that the cumulative impacts of all of these projects may doom any chance for wildlife connections between these two mountain ranges.

Worse, the North Bridger and Limestone West timber sales are both based on flawed concepts of what constitutes the healthy forest and how to prevent wildfire.  Dominated by foresters who possess an industrial forestry paradigm that sees anything other than a green tree as a disaster, these foresters either ignore or simply unaware of the many studies that demonstrate that dead trees are critical to many animals.

Some 2/3 of all wildlife use dead trees are some time in their life, while such trees store carbon (logging always reduces forest carbon) which is critical in this age of global climate change. Logging also spreads weeds, removes biomass and nutrients from forest soils, sediment from logging roads fouls streams, and logging roads and equipment operations disturb and displaces wildlife.

Similarly, many studies show that the majority of all acreage burned in wildfires occurs during extreme weather conditions, and under such conditions, thinning and logging fails to halt fires. Indeed, recently more than 200 scientists, many with direct fire ecology experience, wrote Congress to criticize the notion that logging can preclude wildfires. (scientist letter here) http://www.forestlegacies.org/images/scientist-letters/scientist-letter-wildfire-signers-2018-08-27_1.pdf

If both the MDNR and GNF were to do a full and accurate cost evaluation of the many ecological impacts of logging, it is clear that leaving these trees alone has far more public value than turning them into 2 x 4s. The problem is that these agencies are dominated by foresters whose jobs depend on continued logging of our forests, and certainly cannot be trusted to do any kind of fair assessments. No logging. No jobs for them.

It’s time for the public to stand up and oppose these ill-conceived proposals.


About The Author

George Wuerthner

George Wuerthner is an ecologist and former hunting guide with a degree in wildlife biology

One Response to Limestone West proposal could sever wildlife corridor

  1. avatar Ida Lupine says:

    Just no.

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September 2018
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‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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