GNF Travel Plan

For the past 20 years, the Gallatin National Forest travel plan has been evolving as a result of myriad management decisions. As a result, the current plan is an ungainly tangle of rules that may or may not accurately reflect the best way to manage our forest resources. The GNF now includes 3,300 miles of trail and 1,000 miles of road, 700 of which have been added in the past five years. Policies and conservation strategies shift rapidly, so the agency has decided to take a step back and evaluate the situation.

In August 2002, the GNF released its "benchmark" proposal—a travel plan with different rules on road and trail use intended to stimulate dialogue with the public. From the information gathered through open houses and public comment, the GNF forged six alternative drafts of a new plan. Unveiled in early August, they were open to public comment until October 3rd, and those comments are now being assessed. The six alternatives present an array of options for proper road and trail management. The permissive first alternative is essentially the current plan displayed as designated routes, and the other alternatives (2-6) increase in restrictiveness.

The next major step will be the draft environmental impact statement (DEIS), which is due out in either spring or summer of 2004. Along with a report on the six alternatives, the DEIS will feature a seventh option—a preferred alternative—that has been adopted under the pressures of resource capability, professional knowledge, and legal sideboards. Visit the GNF website ( for information on the process and the DEIS comment period. The complete EIS decision is due to be complete in late 2004.