New Land Management Plan Released for Custer Gallatin National Forest
Custer Gallatin National Forest Supervisor Mary C. Erickson issued a final decision on the agency’s land management plan on January 28, 2022. Her decision will guide how American bison will be managed on the National Forest for decades to come. You can review the agency’s record of decision and analysis below under FOREST SERVICE DECISION DOCUMENTS.
After hearing public objections, Region 1 Regional Forester Leanne M. Marten denied American bison met the criteria for listing as a species of conservation concern. You can read her final decision below under RESPONSE TO OBJECTORS.
The components for how American bison will managed on the Custer Gallatin National Forest can be reviewed under DIRECTION FOR AMERICAN BISON.
CUSTER GALLATIN NATIONAL FOREST LAND MANAGEMENT PLAN
DIRECTION FOR AMERICAN BISON
The Yellowstone bison population is unique in that it is genetically pure (for example isolated from domestic livestock), and it contains thousands of individuals that exhibit wild behavior and roam relatively freely over a very large landscape. As such, this bison population is of great importance to Tribes and local, regional, and national visitors. The Custer Gallatin National Forest is unique because it borders Yellowstone Park on the north and west sides, where bison naturally tend to migrate out of the Park to lower elevation habitats on National Forest System lands when winter snows become too deep in the Park. The framework for management of Yellowstone bison is found in the Interagency Bison Management Plan, which delineates management zones where bison presence is tolerated and management is emphasized. At the time the plan was written, bison were located only in the Madison, Henrys Lake, and Gallatin Mountains Geographic Area and the Absaroka Beartooth Geographic Area.
Desired Conditions (FW-DC-WLBI)
01 Native bison have access to forage, security, and movement corridors to facilitate distribution of the species to suitable habitats within the plan area.
02 Suitable habitat supports a year-round bison presence on the Custer Gallatin National Forest. Habitat accommodates bison migrating out of Yellowstone National Park in winter, as well. Adequate connecting corridors exist between suitable habitats to facilitate bison movement and distribution to increase resilience to stressors, adaptability to changing conditions, and contributing to stable and increasing genetic diversity.
03 Educational materials, including signage at trailheads and campgrounds where bison may occur, are available to help national forest users understand wild bison behavior and act accordingly in order to avoid conflicts.
04 Bison are present year-round with enough numbers and adequate distribution to support a self-sustaining population on the Custer Gallatin National Forest in conjunction with bison herds in Yellowstone National Park.
01 The Custer Gallatin National Forest engages with Tribal, Federal, State, and other willing partners to expand the science of bison ecology, foster awareness of the important biological, ecological, and cultural roles of bison on the landscape, reduce conflict with livestock and non-National Forest System property, and cooperatively develop adaptive strategies to manage bison and their habitats to facilitate natural movement or translocation of bison into and between suitable habitats.
01 Complete three projects within, or for the purpose of creating or connecting, suitable bison habitat every three years, one of which is a habitat improvement project.
01 To promote bison expansion within management zones, management actions taken to resolve bison-livestock conflicts should favor bison within these zones.
02 To facilitate progressive expansion of bison management zones over time, bison habitat improvement projects should be strategically placed within and near existing management zone boundaries.
03 To facilitate bison expansion into unoccupied, suitable habitat in the area that coincides with the grizzly bear primary conservation area, management actions should not create a barrier to bison movement unless needed to achieve interagency targets for bison population size and distribution.
Selected Plan Components
What management actions have occurred to improve/facilitate bison movements and avoidance of human/bison conflicts?
* 36 CFR 219.12(a)(5) - ii
Indicator(s) and Measure(s)
- Number of bison/human conflicts
Bison management actions
- Number and types, locations of actions that improve habitat or facilitate opening corridors for bison movement to suitable habitats within the plan area.
- Number and location of educational outreach materials distributed and/or posted
Data Source/ Storage (Interval of data collection)
FACTS, WIT, INFRA
Jennifer Eberlien, Reviewing Officer for the Chief, Objection Response for the Species of Conservation List associated with the Custer Gallatin Plan Revision, (March 4, 2021) (PDF 365 kb)
Custer Gallatin National Forest Land Management Plan Revision Reviewing Officer Response to Eligible Objections USDA Forest Service, Northern Region (April 2021) (PDF 1.3 MB)
Leanne M. Marten, Regional Forester, Dear Objectors and Interested Persons letter (April 15, 2021) (PDF 176 kb)
Leanne M. Marten, Regional Forester, Species of Conservation Concern List for the Custer Gallatin National Forest's Revised Land Management Plan (April 15, 2021) (PDF 254 kb)
Animal Species of Conservation Concern Identification Process for the Custer Gallatin National Forest’s Revised Forest Plan (Post-Objection) (March 2021) (PDF 213 kb)
Process for Identifying Plant Species of Conservation Concern for the Custer Gallatin National Forest’s Revised Forest Plan (Post-Objection) (March 2021) (PDF 291 kb)
Do I have standing to object?
To become an objector, the Forest Service requires you to have previously submitted a comment during development of the Custer Gallatin National Forest’s land management plan.
- Download the Forest Service’s objections form. (Word Document, 20kb)
- Provide all of the information the Forest Service requires on the objections form.
- Check both boxes next to the Land Management Plan and the Regional Forester’s List of SCC on the objections form.
- For guidance on how to write an objection, download BFC’s Objections (PDF, 1.7MB) and BFC's Objections Form (PDF, 78kb).
- You must submit your objections in a readable, searchable format: Word, PDF, or Text.
- Sign and electronically submit your completed objections form to the Forest Service no later than September 8, 2020.
Be sure to submit an electronic or paper copy of the evidence you introduce in your objection to the Forest Service’s decisions.
You can also mail or fax your objection to:
Objection Reviewing Officer
USDA Forest Service Northern Region
26 Fort Missoula Road
Missoula MT 59804
Fax: (406) 329–3411
- Once you properly file your objection, be prepared to timely respond to communications from the Forest Service on taking the next steps in the public objection’s process.
- Check your eligibility. If you previously submitted a comment on the Forest Service's land management plan or decision to designate species of conservation concern, you have standing to become an objector.
If you were a signatory to the submitted report, American bison a species of conservation concern (PDF, 17MB), you have secured your right to object. (Download the PDF and search your name using the “Find” feature).
- To protect your standing, follow all of the Forest Service's rules for submitting an objection. Download the Administrative Review (PDF, 33kb).
- Familiarize yourself with key definitions in the Forest Service Glossary (PDF, 66kb).
- For each objection, provide a statement of what is wrong with the decision. Provide your reason and rationale to change the decision. Submit evidence in support of your objection. Ask the Forest Service to fix the final decision the way you want them to:
Your final alternative for the Custer Gallatin National Forest land management plan must include habitat standards for American bison.
Your final decision must designate American bison a species of conservation concern on National Forests in the Northern Region.
- An objection can be personal or technical (a cite to the law, rule, scientific publication or evidence the Forest Service ignored).
Native knowledge, the best available scientific information, your personal experience, your knowledge of language, place, history, biology, ecology, and common sense are wellsprings for writing substantive objections.
- Timely follow up on communications from the Forest Service and take the next steps in the public objection’s process.
Buffalo Field Campaign, Objections (September 8, 2020) (1.7MB PDF).
Buffalo Field Campaign Objections Form (September 8, 2020) (78kb PDF).
S.M. Adams & A.R. Dood, Background Information on Issues of Concern for Montana: Plains Bison Ecology, Management, and Conservation, (Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, Bozeman, MT June 2011) (24 MB PDF).
K. Aune, D. Jørgensen, & C. Gates, Bison bison, American bison The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017, (2018) (2.6MB PDF).
Patrick J. Bartlein et al., Future Climate in the Yellowstone National Park Region and Its Potential Impact on Vegetation, 11(3) Conservation Biology 782 (June 1997) (1.2MB PDF).
Joel Berger, The Last Mile: How to Sustain Long-Distance Migration in Mammals, 18(2) Conservation Biology 320–331 (April 2004) (516kb PDF).
Custer Gallatin National Forest, Decision Memo, Special Use Permit Montana Dept. of Fish, Wildlife & Parks – Installation and Maintenance of Fencing for Bison Management, (June 17, 2016) (4.1MB PDF).
David Forgacs et al., Mitochondrial Genome Analysis Reveals Historical Lineages in Yellowstone Bison, 11(11) PLoS ONE e0166081 (Nov. 23, 2016) (430kb PDF).
Gallatin National Forest, Decision Memo, Special Use Permit Amendment, Montana Dept. of Fish, Wildlife & Parks – Installation and Maintenance of Fencing on National Forest System (NFS) Lands (April 15, 2011) (618kb PDF).
Gallatin National Forest, Special Use Permit, Montana Dept. of Fish, Wildlife & Parks – Installation and Maintenance of Fencing on National Forest System (NFS) Lands (Dec. 4, 2009) (8.6MB PDF).
Chris Geremia et al., Migrating bison engineer the green wave, 116(51) PNAS (Dec. 17, 2019) (8.1MB PDF).
Chris Geremia et al., Status Report on the Yellowstone Bison Population, (October 2019) (1MB PDF).
Chris Geremia et al., Status Report on the Yellowstone Bison Population, (Sept. 2017) (586kb PDF).
Natalie D. Halbert et al., Genetic Population Substructure in Bison at Yellowstone National Park, Journal of Heredity, Advance Access published (Feb. 8, 2012) (565kb PDF).
Grant Harris et al., Global decline in aggregated migrations of large terrestrial mammals, 7 Endangered Species Research 55 (May 2009) (1.1MB PDF).
Philip W. Hedrick, Conservation Genetics and North American Bison (Bison bison), 100(4) Journal of Heredity 411 (2009) (262kb PDF).
Interagency Bison Management Plan Members, Operating Procedures for the Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP) (Dec. 31, 2019) (799kb PDF).
Jeff M. Martin et al., Bison body size and climate change, 8 Ecology and Evolution 4564 (Feb. 25, 2018) (909kb PDF).
Amy McKeever, Why some animals are more important to ecosystems than others, National Geographic (May 19, 2020) (41kb PDF).
Montana Natural Heritage Program, SOC Report Animal Species of Concern (last updated April 16, 2020) (807kb PDF).
Martin Nie et al., Fish and Wildlife Management on Federal Lands: Debunking State Supremacy, 47 Environmental Law 797 (2017) (942kb PDF).
Martin Nie & Emily Schembra, The Important Role of Standards in National Forest Planning, Law, and Management, 44 Environmental Law Review 10281 (April 2014) (856kb PDF).
Paul Schullery & Lee Whittlesey, Greater Yellowstone bison distribution and abundance in the early historical period, A. Wondrak Biel, editors, Greater Yellowstone Public Lands: A Century of Discovery, Hard Lessons, and Bright Prospects, Proceedings of the 8th Biennial Scientific Conference on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, October 17–19, 2005, Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, Yellowstone National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, Yellowstone Center for Resources (2006) (106kb PDF).
Courtney A. Schultz et al., Wildlife Conservation Planning Under the United States Forest Service’s 2012 Planning Rule, 77(3) The Journal of Wildlife Management 1–17 (Jan. 23, 2013) (184kb PDF).
Julie L. Tesky, Bos bison. In: Fire Effects Information System, (U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, 1995) http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/animals/mammal/bobi/all.html
Lochran W. Traill et al., Pragmatic population viability targets in a rapidly changing world, 143 Biological Conservation 28 (2010) (274kb PDF).
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Establishment of a Nonessential Experimental Population of Wood Bison in Alaska, 79 Fed. Reg. 26175 (May 7, 2014) (1.7MB PDF).
U.S. Forest Service, Region 2, Regional TES Species Program Leader Nancy Warren, American Bison R2 Individual Species Recommendations, (Apr. 29, 2011) (58kb PDF).
P.J. White et al., Management of Yellowstone bison and brucellosis transmission risk – Implications for conservation and restoration, 144 Biological Conservation 1322 (2011) (598kb PDF).
Custer Gallatin National Forest Record of Decision Land Management Plan (Jan. 2022) (PDF 1.6MB)
Custer Gallatin National Forest Land Management Plan (Jan. 2022) (PDF 2.3MB)
Custer Gallatin National Forest FEIS for the Land Management Plan Summary (Jan. 2022) (PDF 1.1MB)
Custer Gallatin National Forest FEIS for the Land Management Plan Vol. 1 Ch. 1, 2, 3 (Jan. 2022) (PDF 9.2MB)
Custer Gallatin National Forest FEIS for the Land Management Plan Vol. 2 Ch. 3, 4, Glossary (Jan. 2022) (PDF 6.7MB)
Custer Gallatin National Forest FEIS for the Land Management Plan Vol. 3 Appendix A–F (Jan. 2022) (PDF 24.6MB)
Custer Gallatin National Forest FEIS for the Land Management Plan Vol. 4 Appendix G (Jan. 2022) (PDF 2.2MB)
Custer Gallatin National Forest Appendices for the Land Management Plan (Jan. 2022) (PDF 19.2MB)
Federal Register Notice Final Record of Decision for the Custer Gallatin National Forest (Jan. 28, 2022) (PDF 216kb)
Forest Supervisor Erickson Release of the Land Management Plan, FEIS and Final ROD for Custer Gallatin Forest Plan Revision (Jan. 28, 2022) (PDF 699kb)
Revised Forest Plan for the Custer Gallatin National Forest Biological Assessment for Threatened, Endangered, Proposed and Candidate Species (May 15, 2020) (PDF 6.1MB)
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Biological Opinion Custer Gallatin Land Management Plan (Jan. 20, 2022) (PDF, 3.95MB)
Custer Gallatin Land Management Plan – Sharing the Decision (Winter 2022) (PDF 4.1MB)
Objections Form (Word 20kb)
Interested Person Form (Word 33kb)
Custer National Forest Land Management Administrative Review (PDF, 33kb)
Glossary of selected terms (66kb PDF).
Supervisor Mary C. Erickson, Release of 2020 Land Management Plan, Final EIS and Draft ROD for Custer Gallatin Forest Plan Revision (July 9, 2020) (PDF 193kb)
Custer Gallatin Forest Supervisor Mary C. Erickson letter (March 1, 2019) (PDF 130kb)
Regional Forester, Custer Gallatin NF Species of Conservation Concern (June 30, 2020) (PDF 294kb)
Regional Forester Leanne M. Marten Species of Conservation Concern, Custer Gallatin National Forest (Feb. 7, 2019) (PDF 123kb)
Regional Forester, Questions and Answers – Species of Conservation Concern Identification in the Northern Region (Version 3) (May 21, 2020) (PDF 194kb)
Process for Identifying Animal Species of Conservation Concern for the CGNF Revised Forest Plan and EIS (PDF 213kb)
Process for Identifying Plant Species of Conservation Concern for the CGNF Revised Forest Plan and EIS (PDF 291kb)
Rationale (species evaluations) used to select animal and plant Species of Conservation Concern for the CGNF (Excel 86kb)
2020 Land Management Plan (2.3MB)
Draft Record of Decision Custer Gallatin National Forest Land Management Plan (PDF 782kb)
Final Environmental Impact Statement for the 2020 Land Management Plan Summary (PDF 500kb)
Final EIS for the 2020 Land Management Plan Volume 1 Chapters 1, 2, and 3 (part 1) (PDF 7.8MB)
Final EIS for the 2020 Land Management Plan Volume 2 Chapter 3 (part 2), Chapter 4, Glossary, and References (PDF 6.8MB)
Final EIS for the 2020 Land Management Plan Volume 3 Appendix A (maps) through Appendix E (PDF 100.6MB)
Final EIS for the 2020 Land Management Plan Volume 4 Appendix F Response to Comments on the Draft EIS and Draft Revised Forest Plan (PDF 2.1MB)
Final EIS for the 2020 Land Management Plan Volume 5 Appendix G Biological Assessment for Threatened, Endangered, Proposed, and Candidate Species (PDF 3.5MB)
Appendices for the 2020 Land Management Plan (PDF 16.9MB)
Map Vicinity Custer Gallatin National Forest Forest Plan Revision (1.5MB PDF)
Map West Side Custer Gallatin National Forest Final Plan Designated Areas and Land Allocations (1.9MB PDF)
Map Absaroka Beartooth Mountains Custer Gallatin National Forest Plan Revision Alternative F Designated Areas and Land Allocations (23.1MB PDF)
Map Madison, Henrys Lake and Gallatin Mountains Custer Gallatin National Forest Plan Revision Alternative F Designated Areas and Land Allocations (18.2MB PDF)
Custer Gallatin National Forest Plan Designated Areas Map Absaroka Beartooth Mountains (70.4MB PDF)
Custer Gallatin National Forest Plan Designated Areas Map Madison, Henrys Lake, Gallatin Mountains (63.8MB PDF)
Public comments on the Custer Gallatin National Forest plan Draft Environmental Impact Statement, June 2019 (637 MB zip file)
BFC Official comments Custer Gallatin National Forest plan revision, June 4, 2019 (PDF)
Northern Cheyenne Tribe, CGNF Forest Plan Revision-Species of Conservation Concern, May 28, 2019 (PDF)
Official Signatories’ Report, American Bison A Species of Conservation Concern, March 5, 2018 (PDF)
Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, CGNF Comment Yellowstone Buffalo, March 1, 2018 (PDF)
Piikani Nation, CGNF Innii Comment, March 1, 2018 (PDF)
Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council, CGNF Forest Plan Revision-Species of Conservation Concern, May 31, 2019 (PDF).
Helpful reference material for developing objections, standards, and listing American bison as a species of conservation concern on our National Forests.
Welcome to our American bison e-newsletter (April 17, 2019)
The art of developing comments (April 23, 2019)
What's missing in the Custer Gallatin Forest Plan revision? (May 1, 2019)
Listing American bison as a species of conservation concern (May 8, 2019)
Seeking the truth (May 14, 2019)
Restoring connectivity for American bison on the National Forest (May 22, 2019)
Adopting Alternative D with strong standards for American bison (May 29, 2019)
Sign on! Comment for American bison by June 6 (June 3, 2019)
Forest Service fails to protect American Bison habitat (August 19, 2020)
Why we fight for habitat standards for American bison (August 26, 2020)
Make a stand for the distinct and unique American bison in Yellowstone (September 2, 2020)
Sept. 8 last day to object! Thank you signatories (September 8, 2020)