The Gallatin National Forest is taking additional public comment on a plan to thin more than 3,000 acres of the Gallatin National Forest south of Bozeman, and burn another 1,500 acres. Part of the Forest’s plan to amend the 1987 Forest Plan to reflect the language and intent of the National Fire Policy, these particular projects would take place in the Bozeman and Hyalite Creek drainages.

“The proposed amendment would allow the use of fire as a management tool throughout the Gallatin National Forest, when and where appropriate, to achieve natural resource objectives where we haven’t had the option before,” stated Mary Erickson, Gallatin Forest Supervisor.

Through the proposal, which is called the Bozeman Municipal Watershed Project, the Forest hopes to lessen the chances of a major fire those drainages, which supply three quarters of Bozeman’s drinking water.

Environmental groups have challenged the project, arguing it’s an attempt to open these forests to logging, that it would damage habitat, and it violates environmental laws. Opposition groups include the Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Montana Ecosystem Defense Council and Native Ecosystems Council.

The Forest still plans to begin that project this year. A supplemental Environmental Impact Statement is available online at fs.usda.gov/gallatin on the Projects and Plans page. Comment electronically at: comments-northern-gallatin@fs.fed.us.