Bear Canyon Trail Update

The war between the Gallatin County Commission and the U.S. Forest Service rages on.

In September, the County Commission resolved to order the U.S. Forest Service to reopen Bear Canyon Road. If the Forest Service refuses, then the Commission has authorized county road crews to restore the road and open it again for grazing.

The battle began in July, when local ranchers were shocked to discover that the U.S. Forest Service had blocked off the county-owned road where cows have ambled for over a century. In its place lay a narrow temporary trail, built without county approval.

Previously, ranchers retained grazing access rights on the road under a lease agreement with the Forest Service, which they had successfully regained by late summer. Unfortunately, their cattle refused to travel the 50-inch-wide trail.

Although the Forest Service intended to open the trail to all-terrain-vehicles, it's still closed to all but hikers and skiers until June 2008, with a grazing exemption. At this point, the Commission is primarily concerned with solving the ranchers' grazing issues, although it expects motorized vehicle users to become involved in the debate.