Great write up by our partners at the USFS-Bozeman Ranger Districts! We all have a vested interest in this beautiful place, let’s work together to keep it special and enjoyable for all!!!
By Lisa Stoeffler – courtesy of bozemandailychronicle.com
The proximity and high level of accessibility of Hyalite Canyon is an asset to everyone living in or visiting the Gallatin Valley. People can get off work and go for a hike or a ride, or go camping or fishing 10 minutes from Bozeman’s Main Street in an area offering breathtaking scenery. However, as managers of this tremendous asset, the Forest Service has significant safety and resource management concerns resulting from target and recreational shooting.
The Gallatin Valley’s continued population growth and popularity has resulted in over 5,000 people on any given day enjoying the Hyalite drainage. Holidays and weekends are even more popular with folks enjoying a huge variety of activities. Winter use continues to grow as well given the family friendly front country winter recreation opportunities, ice fishing access to Hyalite Reservoir, and the world class ice climbing activities found at the upper end of the drainage.
In 2012 the Custer Gallatin National Forest implemented a target shooting restriction one-half mile from the Hyalite and East Fork Hyalite Roads to address growing safety and resource management concerns. People were inadvertently shooting over or toward developed facilities and trails and the trash and resource damage resulting from the high amount of shooting was overwhelming.
Unfortunately the resource damage and safety “close calls” continue and are growing. Acres of trees have been literally shot down and thousands of pounds of trash have been picked up and hauled out of these areas, Moser ridge in particular. In October 2015 the Friends of Hyalite hosted a volunteer clean-up day and removed over 5,000 pounds of trash, the majority of which came from the Moser target shooting areas. These cleanup efforts have become a reoccurring need.
Target shooting may be an appropriate use of National Forest System lands when it is done safely and responsibly. Given the expanding high density of recreationists in Hyalite Canyon finding areas to safely shoot is becoming more and more difficult. Shooting down acres of trees and vegetation, bringing your sofa or other appliances with you to use as targets, or leaving your spent shells or clay pigeons is not responsible use here or on any other public lands.
The impact on natural resources and the safety of other users is inappropriate and inconsistent with National Forest management. We must do better than this. The Custer Gallatin National Forest is asking for your help – keep yourself and others safe when target shooting, clean up after yourself and others, leave nothing behind and don’t shoot down the trees or other vegetation.