GALLATIN NATIONAL FOREST
BIG SKY – Due to the high degree of public interest on a proposal involving the exchange of rights on Forest Service roads and trails in the North Fork drainage, the Gallatin National Forest will host an additional public meeting on Thursday, April 4 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. in the Buck Ridge Room at Bucks T-4 in Big Sky, Mont. The public comment period will also be extended by two weeks, to April 12.
For the past several years, the Forest Service has been working with landowners and interested parties to resolve a number of access issues in the North Fork. This led to a proposal considering an exchange of existing easements for new easements to access public land. Since the proposal involves exchanging rights currently held by the agency in lieu of new easements, the Forest is seeking public feedback to determine how to move forward.
“We’ve had a great deal of interest in this proposal and heard from the public that they would like more time to look over the proposal, form their opinion and get responses back to us,” said Lisa Stoeffler, Bozeman District Ranger. “Our interest is to hear from folks before we decide how we’ll move forward.”
The Forest Service currently holds full and perpetual public easements for Forest Road 166B (West Fork Loop Road), FR 166D (Basin Road), National Forest Trail #16, and for the North Fork Trailhead. These easements are on private lands.
Under the current proposal, the North Fork Trailhead would serve both the North Fork Trail #16 and a new 6.8-mile trail loop that would be constructed on private land and would eventually connect to National Forest Trail #403. The new trail would be located on a perpetual, public, year-round easement held by a public trail management entity for all non-motorized public uses, granted by each private land owner.
The Forest would maintain its easement on FR 166B on the east side of the loop from Highway 64 to the North Fork Trailhead, and an easement for administrative use only from Highway 64 on Forest Roads 166B and 166D to National Forest System lands on the west side of the loop, with a reroute around the home on FR 166B.
Feedback can be submitted to 3710 Fallon Street, Suite C, Bozeman, MT 59718 or to firstname.lastname@example.org (include “FR166B comments” in the subject line). For more information and related maps, visit fs.usda.gov/gallatin or call the Bozeman Ranger District at (406) 522-2520.