Speak out for Hyalite, the Gallatins

Do you care about Hyalite, the Gallatins, the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, and all of the wildlife Lewis and Clark saw when they made their trek west?

Then join us next week as the Forest Service hosts meetings to hear from all of us on how to manage these places for the next 30 years.

You can talk about your favorite place, what you do there, why you care, and what you want to see in the future. Places like:

Hyalite

Wherever and whenever you visit Hyalite, just 20 miles from downtown Bozeman, there will be no question about how popular this place is and how many people love it. Hyalite is the most-visited recreation site in Montana. You can do it all here. Hiking, biking, fishing, boating, canoeing, paddleboarding, riding horses, rock climbing – and that’s just in the summer. In the fall it’s hunting. In winter, it’s skiing and ice climbing and ice fishing.

Hyalite sees a half-million user days every year. And as more and more people move to Bozeman every year, that number will only go up. But Hyalite is wild. A couple of friends of mine were skiing in the high country in March and found fresh tracks – from a wolverine.

Wolverine tracks in Hyalite, March 2017. (Photo courtesy Joe Josephson.)

Wolverine tracks in Hyalite, March 2017. (Photo courtesy Joe Josephson.)

Large numbers of people using this very wild place next to Yellowstone is the reason why the plan for the next 30 years needs to be good, and needs your voice.

Big Creek

Big Creek is exactly what it sounds like: a big drainage with a big creek. It’s on the other side of Hyalite Canyon, and could very well could be one of the wildest places in the Hyalite Porcupine Buffalo Horn Wilderness Study Area.

A horse and rider in Big Creek. (Photo Louise Johns.)

A horse and rider in Big Creek. (Photo Louise Johns.)

One afternoon, I was hiking here with my two very independent dogs. I usually keep them close, but that afternoon my dog Ruby ran up the hill away from the trail. Moments later, she bolted back to my side. And she wouldn’t walk in front of me. Something big had frightened her. I pulled out my bear spray, and I was ready to empty that can. Thankfully we didn’t see a bear, but once again I was reminded of how small I am in that wild place.

Gallatin Crest

The Gallatin Crest stretches 75 miles from Yellowstone National Park all the way up to Hyalite. These mountains are the last unprotected mountain range bordering Yellowstone, and these mountains have been a battleground for many years, because mountain bikers, motorcycle riders, hikers, and horseback riders all like to be up here. 

Hikers on the Gallatin Crest. (Photo GYC.)

Hikers on the Gallatin Crest. (Photo GYC.)

But it’s the heart of the Hyalite Porcupine Buffalo Horn Wilderness Study Area. The Crest is actually closed to motorcycles, ATVS, and mountain bikes. We want balance for who goes where in this forest, and GYC thinks this place could be one of the places that stays quiet, where we can go for solitude and escape into the backcountry that’s so close to home. 

So think of the special place you want to talk about, and please join me at one of these meetings next week. One night of your time will make a difference for the next 30 years. We can help the Forest Service come up with a solid plan for our wild backyard forest.

-- Darcie Warden, Montana Conservation Coordinator

Upcoming meetings (all from 5:30-8:00 pm)

Sept. 11 – West Yellowstone. West Yellowstone Holiday Inn (315 Yellowstone Ave) 

Sept. 12 – Gardiner. Yellowstone Forever (308 East Park St) 

Sept. 13 – Bozeman. Bozeman Hilton Garden Inn, Larkspur Rm (2023 Commerce Wy) 

Sept. 18 – Red Lodge. Carbon County Fairgrounds, Edgar Guell Bldg (Airport Rd) 

Sept. 19 – Columbus. Stillwater County Pavilion (328 E 5th Ave N.) 

Sept. 20 – Livingston. Livingston Medical Center, Duncan Hagemeyer Conference Room (320 Alpenglow Lane)