The US Forest Service has recently proposed a land exchange in Montana's Crazy Mountains called the “South Crazy Mountain Land Exchange.” This proposal would swap privately owned sections with publicly owned USFS lands within the Custer-Gallatin National Forest.
The Montana Chapter of BHA appreciates the efforts by the Custer-Gallatin NF to consolidate public lands. We understand the challenges of managing the Crazy Mountains with its many private inholdings and public access disputes. However, we do not support the entirety of the current South Crazy Mountain Land Exchange proposal.
Specifically, there are two sections of public land on the trading block that would be significant losses to the public if forfeited and we oppose trading them within the context of the current proposal.
We oppose the exchange of public land sections 4 and 8 (Township 2 N., Range 11 E.) for private sections 11, 13 and 21 (Township 3 N., Range 11 E.). Here are some specific reasons why:
- Sections 4 and 8 described above offer public access to high-quality mid-elevation and lowland wildlife habitat, a rarity in the greater Crazy Mountain landscape.
- These sections contain portions of Rock Creek and offer quality hunting, fishing, hiking, bird watching, camping, etc.
- These sections are already legally and easily accessible for public walk-in access through Forest Service Trails 270 and 272. They are not landlocked nor inaccessible, therefor making them unattractive for trade.
- These sections are the epitome of quality public land and wildlife habitat and would be a major loss for the public if traded for sections 11, 13 and 21, which do not hold anywhere near the same value of quality habitat and ease of public access.
We do support the other proposed land swaps within the current South Crazy Mountain Land Exchange proposal as they consolidate public lands and improve public access.
The Montana Chapter has submitted a letter (found here), but the USFS will need to hear from YOU. Please use the talking points above to formulate your own comments and submit them to the USFS using the comment portal here.
If you have any questions or if we can assist in your comments at all, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. We'd love to help.
- The Montana Chapter of BHA
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