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Our country is currently facing serious challenges that affect life as we know it. Of course, climate change is a primary concern as there are no other "issues" on a dead planet.

Locally, we can’t afford to treat climate change as an abstract concept not relevant to our reality. Not unexpectedly, here the Custer-Gallatin National Forest Final Forest Plan would "manage" what’s left of nearby wild public lands with road-building, logging and mechanized intrusion of Wilderness Study Areas. These are climate adverse activities.

First, the Forest Service illegally allowed mechanized vehicles in the Gallatin Wilderness Study Area. Then, as an end run around the law, the Forest Service initiated the Gallatin Collaborative, which ended up polarizing the community and morphing into the Gallatin Forest Partnership, which excluded anyone who didn’t agree with drastically reducing the protected acreage. And now, the final Forest Plan proposes even less wilderness than the GFP!

I imagine the Forest Service thinks it has hood-winked the public into believing that their process of arriving at this decision was "collaborative" and therefore acceptable.

Don’t be fooled; none of this is acceptable. From the start, the exhaustive, time-consuming public process was exclusive and inequitable; not conducive to public participation.

Elevating the process of "collaboration" at the expense of wildlands and wildlife is precisely what the bureaucrats wanted the public to do: keep us busy rearranging the deck-chairs as the ship sinks so we won’t notice if there are any lifeboats left. Only 2.7% of the lower 48 is permanently protected as designated wilderness. That’s our lifeboat.

History show us there will always be attempts to destroy the natural world. And there will always be appeasers to those attempts. And there will always be resistance.

I agree with Dorothy Bradley. “Maximum acreage. Maximum protection!”

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Marilyn Olsen