In Park County, the Yellowstone River still runs cold and clear. Grizzly bears still roam the mountains. These are sacred places. But with a changing climate, growing population and mass extinction happening across the planet, places like this are disappearing.

Right now, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to help preserve these sacred lands through the Custer Gallatin Forest Plan revision. This process is the best chance to influence the forest where we bring our children to fish and hunt and hike and ski, where we teach our children to appreciate the world and the awe that nature inspires.

Every piece of earth around here – the Gallatins, the Crazies, the Absarokas and the Beartooth – is still an intact ecosystem, with its endemic inhabitants. These are places that can more easily absorb the impacts of climate change, providing safe havens for vulnerable species, like wolverines.

Through the revision process, we can tell the Forest Service we value our backyard, and we can encourage them to preserve it with the best protection we have: wilderness designation.

With so many places like this disappearing, carving up and harvesting a sanctuary, doesn’t make sense.

Instead, it’s time for us to step up and start proactively protecting places that inspire curiosity, spark vitality and teach us humility. Places that are home to other species. As a mother, I feel a deep responsibility to speak up, because my young children are still finding their voice. But I am a mother to a bear and an eagle.

For me, I hope we can leave places like this as quiet sanctuary, for other species and for our children’s children.

Michelle Uberuaga