February 13, 2019 Crazy Mountains Public Access Legal Press Release

While it may have appeared quiet on the Crazy Mountains front, it has not been quiet behind the scenes.

A number of Crazy Mountains public access to our public lands advocates have been working with Attorney Matthew Bishop at the Western Environmental Law Center to pursue, if necessary, a civil action against the U.S. Forest Service’s decision for failing to protect and defend public access rights in the Crazy Mountains. This includes public trails on both the west and east side of the Crazy Mountains. The first step is this “Notice of intent to sue” letter.

The coalition is made up of Montana Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, Friends of the Crazy Mountains, Enhancing Montana’s Wildlife and Habitat, the Skyline Sportsmen Association, John Daggett, Tony Schoonen, Harold Johns, Justin Mandic, and John Gibson; informed and engaged organizations and individuals, including many hunters and anglers, hikers, and recreationalists who value our public lands and the challenge, peace, and solitude that occurs with a backcountry experience.

The Coalition is intimately familiar with the Crazy Mountains and has and continues to use the existing, public trails depicted on the Service’s maps, forest plan, and travel plan (and road access to such trails) for all forms of outdoor recreation, including hiking, fishing, and hunting. Yet, the Coalition and other members of the public have been and continue to be confronted with locked gates and “no forest service access” signs on well-known and historic public trails. They also routinely encounter “no trespassing” signs and “keep out” or “permission required” signs at public trailheads and along public trails in the Crazy Mountains.

The Coalition is thus compelled to submit this notice letter to the U.S. Forest Service, USFS Region 1 and the Supervisor of the Custer Gallatin National Forest and, if necessary, pursue legal action. The Coalition is particularly concerned about the Service’s decision and/or related failure to protect and defend public access on five specific trails in the Crazy Mountains:

• Lowline Porcupine trail (No. 267);

• Elk Creek trail (No. 195);

• Sweetgrass trail (No. 122);

• East Trunk trail (No. 136, formerly No. 115); and

• Swamp Lake trail (No. 43).

The Coalition intends to challenge the Service’s decision to forgo new NEPA on the west-side for the proposed trail re-route (and related decision to relinquish the public's rights on those trails) and, in addition, intends to pursue additional claims on both the west-side and east-side for non-compliance with NFMA, NFMA’s implementing regulations, the forest plan, 2006 travel plan, and the Service’s own directives and policy, all of which imposes a duty on the Service to protect and defend public access to our public lands in the Crazy Mountains.

The next step is a possible meeting with the Forest Service.

Thank you for your continued support for public access to our public lands into the Crazy Mountains, now, and for future generations.


Enhancing Montana's Wildlife & Habitat

Public Access Storm Brewing Over the Crazy Mountains

Have you been in the Crazy Mountains?

If you have been in the Crazy Mountains...

  • perhaps you received a citation when you were on a FS Trail on their map;
  • perhaps you have been on one of these contested trail and you thankfully did not ask landowner permission or sign in and would like to add your account to the prescriptive easement history;
  • perhaps you would just like to share your story and/or some pictures of what these particular public lands and access mean to you?

If so, please contact Kathryn QannaYahu:


Crazy Mountain Public Access Page




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