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Analysis: Montanans Want to Stay True to Traditions in the Gallatin

December 7, 2006

Bozeman, MT - Most public comments on the Gallatin National Forest travel plan indicate Montanans want to keep it simple and traditional, protecting places like the Crazies and the Bridger Mountains as natural, quiet wilderness areas. They also show overwhelming support for traditional travel uses, such as hiking and horseback riding. Chris Mehl is with Friends of the Gallatin National Forest, the group that sponsored the analysis.

"(People) want a balanced travel plan that allows us to use the forest as we always have, but also protects the great resources there -- the clean water, the quiet, the solitude, the incredible hunting and the wildlife."

Mehl believes that public sentiment to keep some areas free from motorized traffic in the Gallatin is too strong to ignore.

"We hope that the Forest Service will listen to Montanans and come up with a travel plan that respects its desires."

The U.S. Forest Service is expected to release its final plan by Friday. It will cover some well-known areas, like the Gallatin Crest, the Bridger Mountains and the Crazies, designating which roads and trails will be used by hikers, horseback riders, ATV riders and snowmobilers.

Deborah Smith/Eric Mack, Public News Service - MT