REGIONAL FORESTER REJECTS DESIGNATING AMERICAN BISON A SPECIES OF CONSERVATION CONCERN ON THE CUSTER GALLATIN NATIONAL FOREST
Public objectors, including Buffalo Field Campaign, briefly succeeded in getting the U.S. Forest Service to take another look and determine if American bison is a species of conservation concern, a designation that would have served as a check on decisions affecting the viability and persistence of the migratory species on the Custer Gallatin National Forest.
Recently, Jennifer Eberlien, the reviewing officer for the Chief of the U.S. Forest Service, instructed Northern Region Regional Forester Leanne M. Marten to fill in the gaps on migratory habitat, genetic diversity, habitat quality, and the best available scientific information identified by objectors who sought to overturn her decision not to list bison.
Despite the Chief’s instruction to reevaluate the best available science and her rationale, Regional Forester Marten denied American bison met the criteria for a species of conservation concern, claiming the “expanded documentation further supports my previous findings.” You can read the U.S. Forest Service’s RESPONSE TO OBJECTORS below.
Custer Gallatin National Forest Supervisor Mary C. Erickson is now charged with issuing a final decision on land management components for American bison. As written, the Custer Gallatin’s plan cannot be counted on to ensure viable herds of migratory bison persist on the National Forest.
With the public objections phase now complete, Supervisor Erickson is expected to issue her final decision on the land management plan in the Summer/Fall 2021. Stay tuned! We’ll post more updates as they become available.
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).
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).
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)