Trail Relocation Proposal
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Recently touted as a “made-in-Montana
compromise”, the 3rd land exchange proposal, this time
on the east-side of the Crazy Mountains, is anything but –
let's call it what it is – a big money sellout. For the
public trust's sake, you just might want to know some of the
details behind it, tip of the iceberg, and how these land exchanges
are shrinking the Crazy Mountains.
Crazy Mountains Trail Relocation Proposal was worked up
by Tom Glass of the Yellowstone Club, for the "working
group" to present to the Forest Service.
On February 10, 2020, I, Enhancing
Montana's Wildlife & Habitat, attended a private meeting
requested by Tom Glass (Western Land Group, Inc. representing
the Yellowstone Club) and Jess Peterson (Western Skies Strategies),
with our Friends of the Crazy Mountains plaintiffs and attorneys,
involving a proposed eastern Crazy Mountains land exchange between
private landowners and the Custer Gallatin National Forest.
Glass explained that the Yellowstone Club
was in discussions with Custer Gallatin National Forest Supervisor
Mary Erickson, on a proposed land exchange in Big Sky. Glass
was informed that the land they offered the FS, was not an equal
exchange, that they would need to come up with the balance.
Glass then stated that FS Supervisor Mary Erickson directed
them to look to the Crazy Mountains to come up with the value
balance needed. My FOIA requests confirm Glass met with Supervisor
Erickson and Regional Forester Leanne Marten, during the stated
Glass also stated they did not believe that
a NEPA process would need to be conducted and they were leaning
towards a Congressional exchange, rather than administrative.
Afterward, Glass registered as a Congressional lobbyist, on
behalf of Yellowstone Development, LLC, on March 1, 2020, to
lobby on “Land Exchange Legislation”.
Not only does a legislative exchange potentially
steamroll the process, it can also reduce opportunities for
public involvement – a great concern to me as a public
Additionally, during the presentation, Glass
and Peterson repeatedly made statements, as to the landowners
status and rights, which contradict public access research I've
done, involving existing public access in the Crazy Mountains:
historical prescriptive easements, Northern Pacific Railroad
grant deeds with public access, and RS2477 public access.
Not only does this east-side land exchange
diminish the approximate 100 year old existing trail system,
it also moves trails to much steeper elevations, limiting the
users who can physically access the trails. This proposal, as
the others, seriously ignores that the public already HAS ACCESS,
if only the FS would simply do their job to defend it from private
landowner obstruction. Taken as a whole, between the east and
west-side exchange being litigated, the proposed southern exchange,
now the east proposal, we are seeing the inexcusable shrinking
of the Crazy Mountains, a theft from the public's hands.
Senators Jon Tester, Steve Daines, and Rep. Greg Gianforte,
telling them, "Do not legislate this process; it must go
through the administrative process, the Public must have input.
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