The Custer Gallatin National Forest provides recreation opportunity in an almost endless amount of ways. It's the outdoor experience we cherish, and without a doubt, we love our forest. On any weekend in Hyalite, the Bridger Mountain Range or the Lee Metcalf Wilderness you will see lots of other people playing on skis, bikes, snowmobiles or on foot. Our experience is important and we want to protect it. This can be difficult with so many people doing so many things in the forest but it's not impossible. When we stand up for our shared values the Forest Service will listen. The Custer Gallatin National Forest is organizing public workshops in your area starting in February an on through early April. They are interested in learning what you do, where you go and what you care about in the forest.
GYC is proud to be an active part of this new forest plan. I could tell you all about our philosophy, but I recently spent some time with Bozeman-area writer and artist Kelsey Sather, who wrote about our work in her blog, These Words Like Rocks. She asked, "What does it mean to protect something?"
I walked down the long hallway leading to Darcie Warden's office in the GYC building. Darcie works as the Montana Conservation Coordinator. We sat at a table layered with reports from the Forest Service and articles from academic journals.
"A really important part of our work is the relationships we build," Darcie explained. "We collaborate with ranchers, recreationalists, and local decision makers. Our job it to find out what people really care about. We facilitate dialogue about how to keep this place special.
"And we don't draw lines in the sand," she stressed.
Conservation efforts don't always work this way. Sometimes an advocacy group demands land to be wilderness without considering the potential negative affects this could have on other people. That's often because a conversation never took place between people with different wants and needs.
"We're part detective, part mediator," Darcie continued. "We gather all the information we can and then put our best proposal forward to the decision maker."
I’ll be in listening mode this month as the Forest Service hosts public workshops in towns all around the national forest. Join us in telling the Forest Service your vision for the forest, what you care about and what you want to see for the future of our wild backyard. I invite you to work with us. Together we can protect the ways we play and feel free in our wild backyard!
-- Darcie Warden, Montana Conservation Coordinator
Gardiner Community Church (318 W Main St)
Feb 21 5:30-7:45, public meeting
Feb 22 8:00am – 1:00pm Collaborative session
Cooke City/Silver Gate Chamber of Commerce
Feb 22 4:00 – 8:00pm, public meeting
West Yellowstone Holiday Inn (315 Yellowstone Ave)
Feb 23 5:30-7:45, public meeting
Feb 24 8:00am – 1:00pm Collaborative session
Carbon County Fairgrounds, Edgar Guell Bldg (Airport Rd, Red Lodge)
Feb 27 5:30-7:45, public meeting
Feb 28 8:00am – 1:00pm Collaborative session, 5:15-7:00pm closing
Shrine – Al Bedoo Shrine, Lodge Rm (1125 Broadwater Ave, Billings)
Mar 1 5:30-7:45, public meeting
Mar 2 8:00am – 1:00pm Collaborative session, 5:15-7:00pm closing
Big Timber Dugout
Mar 27 5:30-7:45, public meeting
Mar 28 8:00am – 1:00pm Collaborative session, 5:15-7:00pm closing
Livingston Medical Center, Duncan Hagemeyer Conference Rm (320 Alpenglow Ln)
Mar 29 5:30-7:45, public meeting
Mar 30 8:00am – 1:00pm Collaborative session, 5:15-7:00pm closing
Hilton Garden Inn, Larkspur Ballroom (2023 Commerce Way, Bozeman)
Apr 3 5:30-7:45, public meeting
Apr 4 12:30pm – 5:00pm Collaborative session, 6:00-7:30pm closing