Save the Front

Save the Front

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William Webb & Tim Tousignant

An outdoor playground threatened by logging. 

One of our favorite choices for an after-work hike, run, or ride is the Triple Tree trail just south of town off Sourdough Road. The trail also attracts lots of families who want their young children to experience the joy of hiking surrounded by a beautiful forest. Bird enthusiasts maintain that this is one of the very best areas close to Bozeman to identify by sight or sound the greatest number of bird species. In the fall, the trail is extremely popular with hunters as a jumping-off point for their forays deep into the Gallatin Range in search of game.

This popular destination for the Bozeman community is at risk of being forever changed by the Montana DNRC’s proposed Limestone West logging project. The DNRC wants to log about 560 acres on the Gallatin Front in the area immediately surrounding the Triple Tree trail and to the east toward Mt. Ellis along Limestone Creek. Stands of lodgepole pine, the predominant tree type in the forest, would be clear cut and Douglas fir trees, many of which are over 100 years old, would be “thinned.” About ten miles of new roads would be built and approximately five miles of these roads would remain open after logging, including the planned roads alongside Limestone Creek.

Limestone Creek is that crystal clear stream along the Triple Tree trail where our dogs enjoy a well-deserved drink and splash during the hike. But, Limestone Creek is much more than that. Its drainage to the east of the trail is coveted for its solitude and its importance as a secure habitat and corridor for animals. In fact, it is the last remaining roadless forest area close to Bozeman. It constitutes the northernmost extension of a tract of roadless land stretching from the Gallatin Range south of Bozeman through the Gallatin National Forest all the way to Yellowstone National Park.

Save Our Gallatin Front, a coalition of Bozeman and Gallatin County citizens, commissioned Steve Gehman, a biologist with Wild Things Unlimited, to do a wildlife study, out of concern that the Montana DNRC’s planned logging and road building would have long-term negative impacts on this beautiful forest and critical wildlife habitat.

Moose, Limestone Creek, Triple Tree Trail

Gehman found a very low level of human activity in the Limestone West area during the winter of 2016-17 which translates “to a high level of habitat security for wildlife.” He believes this finding is highly significant because “the Limestone Creek and Nichols Creek drainages are the only significant drainages on the eastern portion (i.e., east of Hyalite Creek) of the Gallatin face that do not contain roads, easy public access, and high levels of human activity.” He concludes that the Limestone West area is “likely very valuable to animals that want to move north-south along the Gallatin-Bridger-Big Belt corridor.”

In 1983, the Department of State Lands (DSL) concluded that the exact area now being targeted by the DNRC for logging was not an appropriate area for such a timber harvest. The DSL found then that “Limestone Creek is virtually pristine” and “the undisturbed nature of this 956-acre zone is complemented by impressive scenery and an abundance of wildlife, including deer, elk, moose, and golden eagle.” The DSL concluded that “this combination of conditions has provided excellent wildlife habitat” and “the severe topographic and soil conditions [“unstable soils” and “boggy conditions”] present in the Limestone Creek drainage will continue to prevent development of the timber resource.” (May 1983 Bear Canyon Management Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Statement)

Save Our Gallatin Front

We urge you to attend a public meeting to learn more and to weigh in on the DNRC’s plans, the results of this new wildlife study, and the activities of Save Our Gallatin Front to find a reasonable alternative to the logging. The public discussion will take place in the Bozeman Public Library Community Room on Wednesday, August 30 at 7pm.

For more information on the meeting, the wildlife study, and the upcoming public hikes in the Limestone Creek area, please go to saveourgallatinfront.org.  


William Webb and Tim Tousignant are co-chairs of Save Our Gallatin Front, a coalition of concerned Bozeman and Gallatin County citizens that was formed in response to the Montana DNRC’s proposed Limestone West logging project and seeks to achieve a reasonable alternative to the logging in this area.

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