Mountains Land Exchange
The South Crazy Mountains Land
Exchange is a PRELIMINARY Environmental Assessment. The Gallatin
National Forest has not provided the public with a NEPA EA (example
of proper NEPA EA - CGNF Sixteen Mile provided to the public).
You can view the documents
they have provided at the Custer
Gallatin National Forest project page.
Exchange Map pdf
Link (page has been having difficulty)
If you can't get thru the online portal, and since no other comment submission address was provided in the Preliminary EA Proposal, I would suggest emailing your comments to Dee Closson, Realty Specialist, email@example.com
Project 56687 - South Crazy Mountains Land Exchange
Mail: Forest Supervisor Mary Erickson, P.O. Box 130, Bozeman, MT 59971;
Fax, (406) 587-6758;
or personally to 10 East Babcock Street, Bozeman, MT
The South Crazy Mountains Land
Exchange has been ongoing for years. It involves 3 different
ranches: Wild Eagle Ranch (red), Rock Creek Ranch (blue) and
the Crazy Mountain Ranch (Pink). The public comment
period ends November 18th, 2019. The Rock Creek Ranch
and Wild Eagle Ranch portions of this exchange proposal do not
appear to be problematic, rather help to consolidate FS land.
The Crazy Mountain Ranch portion, however, has a number of issues.
While doing research on the rest of the Crazy Mountains, I began,
summer of 2018, researching the easements & Railroad Grant
Deeds with easement in the public language on the southern end
of the Crazy Mountains, in anticipation of this proposal.
MONEY TRAIL $$$
Before taking a look at some of the details of this proposal,
I would like to show you a money trail - always follow the MONEY.
Altria Group is the parent
company for Philip Morris USA (tobacco industry). Altria was
the top non-individual donor to the Montana 2017 & 2018
races. They contributed 18 times, totalling $17,244,
662. Philip Morris USA Inc is the owner of the Crazy
Mountain Ranch involved in this Crazy Mountains FS proposal.
Altria contributed to Steve
Daines (2012-2014) $12,500.
when Daines forwarded Crazy Mountains landowner complaints &
false accusations about FS District Ranger Alex Sienkiewicz,
to newly appointed confirmed USDA Secretary of Agriculture,
Sonny Perdue, to get Sienkiewicz removed from his position for
doing his job in the Crazy Mountains?
According to Open
Secrets, Altria has contributed in the 2020 cycle
$7,800 to Daines.
Altria has also been involved
with Ag Sec. Sonny Perdue. They not only contributed to Perdue
when he was GA Governor, but they also "gifted"
"flights paid for by Altria", which were part
of the "self-dealing" ethics investigation.
So the USDA Ag. Secretary Sonny
Perdue, who oversees the Forest Service, attended
the Montana Ag Summit (June 2017, Great Falls) which was organized
and sponsored by Sen. Steve Daines. Days later, District
Ranger Alex Sienkiewicz is removed from his position for doing
his job, including protecting FS public access in the Crazy
Mountains. Then multiple landowner deals are pushed by the FS,
which abandon and remove existing public access, benefiting
the landowners, especially for their private outfitting.
Exchange Talking Points
This exchange is supposedly about opening up public access,
but it is not as win/win as the Custer Gallatin National Forest
is portraying it. Let's take a look at what we already have.
Sections 8 & 4 overlap FS Public Access - Here is a close
up of the approx. 48 foot overlap. Click on map for large view.
That overlap provides public access from FS section 8 to FS
section 4. If we give away Sections 8 & 4, we lose beautiful
wildife/elk habitat to private landowners,
Additonally, I have a copy
of the 1986
Park County Attorney Nels Swandal Opinion PDF stating, it
was permissible to travel across the corner of public to public
land, making good faith effort to step across without trespassing
- each case would depend on the facts of the case. I was given
this Park County Opinion years ago, shared it with a recent
Park County resident who had been accused of trespassing by
corner crossing. The Opinion was used in the case and the trespassing
charges were dismissed. Checking with the County Sheriff's office
beforehand, this PDF Opinion could be utilized to cross from
Section 4 into 34 & 32.
Why has the Custer Gallatin
National Forest abandoned its policy of defending the FS trails
that we have had since at least 1925 (oldest map I have)? The
1925 Absaroka National Forest Map shows Trail #272 (part of
the Lowline Trail System), which went south from Ibex, down
to the Rock Creek Ranger Station (Section 8), then continued
east thru sections 9 & 10 onward. The Rock Creek Guard Station
was documented in the book, Home on the Range, Montana's Eastside
Ranger Stations by Vicky MacLean, retired Forest Service.
Public access to Section 8
is available on Rock Creek Road #199 from the trailhead in Section
15, north on #270 to Section 10, the FS does have easements
for on Sections 9, 10. "The Forest Service has an easement
(Kelly to USA, dated May 23, 1966) across the entire width of
section 9 on the Rock Creek Road #199 to section 8...The public
can stay on the Rock Creek Road to section 8."
County Right-of-Way Easement Section 9 PDF (thanks to Ian
County Right-of-Way Easement Section 10 PDF
I also have Railroad Grant
Deeds with "Easement in the Public" on sections 25
& 31 of 3N 11 E where Trail #272 begins. I had not finished
my research to see all other RR easements in the rest of the
area of concern.