Public comment sought on permanent Hyalite target shooting prohibition


The Custer Gallatin National Forest in April issued a special order temporarily prohibiting target shooting within the Hyalite drainage south of Bozeman. The Forest Service is now proposing to make this prohibition permanent and is seeking public comment.

The temporary restriction remains in place until an environmental analysis process is complete and a decision is reached, likely in January 2017.

The primary purpose of the temporary target shooting restriction was to address public safety issues. The Hyalite drainage receives more than 40,000 visitors monthly in the summer and over 20,000 monthly visitors in the winter. It is the most heavily recreated drainage on National Forest System lands in the state of Montana, with a large number of developed and dispersed recreation sites, 65 miles of road and approximately 70 miles of trail. The density of development and volume of recreationists make it unsafe to target shoot, which is defined as any shooting other than in pursuit of game.

The proposed restriction does not limit the ability to carry or possess a legal firearm within the Hyalite drainage.

Comments will be accepted until Sept. 19 and can be mailed to Gallatin National Forest, Attn: Steve Christiansen, P.O. Box 130, Bozeman, MT 59771. Electronic comments may be emailed to; enter “Hyalite Shooting Restriction” in the subject line. Comments may also be faxed to (406) 587-6758. If you have questions, contact Steve Christiansen at (406) 587-6701 or Lisa Stoeffler, Bozeman District Ranger, at (406) 522-2520.

Goodbye, West Yellowstone News


The West Yellowstone News is publishing its last article on Sept. 2, unless another company steps up to purchase it. The newspaper, one of 23 owned by Seattle-based Pioneer News Group, announced in mid-August that the paper’s finances were not supporting its overhead. The News was published by Pioneer’s sub-company, Big Sky Publishing, LLC.

Pioneer owns newspapers in Washington, Oregon, Utah, Idaho and Montana, including the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, the Belgrade News, and the now-defunct Lone Peak Lookout, which Pioneer closed in fall 2015.

“It’s a rough situation,” said Managing Editor Jeremy Weber on Aug. 31, the day EBS went to print with this newspaper. “We’ve been here 30 years and [the paper] has seen a lot of news. To see it go away is disappointing.”

Newspapers of various sizes across the country have seen declining advertising revenue in recent years. Last year, Pioneer’s Big Sky Publishing shuttered the Lone Peak Lookout after 33 years, also pointing to an inadequate revenue stream.

“We are not in the financial position to continue producing the publication under these circumstances,” said Big Sky Publishing President Stephanie Pressly in an Aug. 19 report published by the West Yellowstone News.

On its website, Pioneer News Group says it is a “…family-owned, multimedia company committed to advancing and empowering the communities it serves by providing essential information and services as a trusted and indispensable public resource.”

WMPAC hosts Law and Justice Center town hall meeting Sept. 13


On Tuesday, Sept. 13, at 7 p.m. representatives from the city of Bozeman and Gallatin County will hold a town hall meeting at Big Sky’s Warren Miller Performing Arts Center to discuss the joint city/county Law and Justice Center plan that will be on the November ballot for Gallatin County voters.

Gallatin County and city of Bozeman commissions unanimously approved their pieces of a $68.3 million bond for a joint Law and Justice Center project. The facility would house county sheriffs, city police, victim services, courts and clerks, city prosecutors, youth probation, the coroner, drug task force operations, and records for the criminal justice system.

The $68.3 million bond is divided between county and city residents. Gallatin County’s share is $47,630,481 and the city’s share is $20, 669,519. If approved by voters, Gallatin County taxes would increase by $20.33 per $100,000 in taxable market value and Bozeman city taxes would increase by $24.58 per $100,000 in taxable market value.

“The ability to protect child crime victims, domestic crime victims, and sexual violence victims will improve overnight,” Gallatin County Attorney Marty Lambert said in a press release.

If approved by voters, construction would begin in the spring of 2017 with the expectation of the center opening in 2019.

Future fisheries improvement projects approved for southwest Montana


The Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission recently approved nearly $250,000 in funding for 10 projects to improve Montana fisheries as part of the Future Fisheries Improvement Program.

Five projects, with a total grant award of $179,550, are located in southwest Montana.

These projects include the installation of riparian fencing on the Big Hole River; the creation of Arctic grayling spawning habitat on Elk Springs Creek; a fish screen on Mulherin Creek to protect Yellowstone cutthroat trout from entering an irrigation ditch; a fish barrier on North Fork of Spanish Creek that will lead to protected westslope cutthroat trout habitat; and the reconnection of Yellowstone cutthroat trout habitat in the upper Shields River watershed.

Improvements are intended to improve fish reproduction, survival, and population size. These grants promote conservation of native species and are also expected to improve sport fishing.

Applications for the Future Fisheries Improvement Program winter-cycle grants are due by Dec. 1 to Fish, Wildlife and Park’s Fisheries Habitat Bureau. Any individual or group with a project designed to restore or enhance habitat for wild or native fish may apply for the funding. Applicants are encouraged to work with local FWP fisheries biologists. Landowners and other project partners usually share project costs, extending the grant dollars.

More information and Future Fisheries Improvement Program applications are available at Visit the Fishing home page, and scroll down to find the link to the Future Fisheries Improvement Program.