Friday, June 21, 2019

Moving the Goalposts - Again

You know me, I am ever curious. Yesterday, I became curious if the Forest Service had issued a Solicitation request for vendor bids on trail relocation work in the Crazy Mountains - they have to make that stuff public. 

They posted the pre-Solicitation on May 1, 2019 (after we sent our Notice of Intent to Sue in Feb.), at 1:03 PM. About an hour later, 2:04 PM, they change the status to "Solicitation". The PDF properties confirm the changes.

Take a look at the PDF, on page 53 you see a map. During the Scoping process for this trail relocation, the map shows a different proposed route. While that one is steeper and higher than the current route, the new one in the solicitation pdf is steeper and higher than the previous one - without any public process or notification - they moved the goalposts again. As you can see, on the two map inserts picture above, the routes are different.

Don't forget that in the Scoping Process, about a week after the public comment deadline, the FS removed the whole public comment reading room link. Thankfully, I had downloaded the zipfile for all the comments a couple days after closing - another moving of the goalposts.

After FS Supervisor Mary Erickson replied to Sen. Steve Daines on the Crazy Mountains, many goalposts have been moved:
  • They removed the Yellowstone District Ranger for doing his job, following FS policy June 2017. After public outcry, he was restored Oct. 2017.
  • During the March 2018 scoping process, the FS didn't hold any public meetings. Friends of the Crazy Mountains and Enhancing Montana's Wildlife & Habitat had to hold a public meeting in Livingston, at our own cost, inviting the FS and landowner to speak - a meeting the FS should have held. We video recorded it, made that and all the PDF documents on a variety of subjects, available online.
  • The Forest Service did not allow their line officers to attend the public meeting to answer the public's questions.
  • The Forest Service changed the category to a CE, then stated this was part of the 2006 Record of Decision Travel Plan.
  • About a week, after the scoping deadline, the FS removed the public comments from the online reading room.(BTW mine was surprisingly missing from the zip file, but I took a screenshot of the submission window for proof, if needed).
  • The FS had the Proposed Porcupine Ibex Trail Project on the SOPA (Schedule of Proposed Actions) quarterly PDF's for 2018: 2nd, 3rd & 4th. Then in 2019, it is gone.
  • The FS is charging ahead, issuing a Solicitation for construction. Trail #267 Phase 1 will obliterate 1300ft of current trail #267 on 4N10E Sec. 10 and another 1200ft of Trail #195 on Sec. 15 (don't forget, we have a Railroad grant deed with "easement in the public language on Sec. 15 for those 2 trails) , which they previously stated the proposed relocation would piggyback- again moving the goalposts, with a Solicitation map different than previously presented to the public: a steeper and higher route, limiting children, impaired and older users. The contract was awarded today.
To add insult to our Crazy Mountains public access injury, contrary to the 2006 Travel Plan, this relocation cuts over a third, out of the middle, of a currently existing motorcycle route from the public's use (other uses such as hiking, mountain bikes, horses and winter snowmobile will also be lost at the lower, more even elevation) - again moving the goalposts.

The public should be outraged over the Forest Service CGNF's actions disregarding the public, FS policy, lack of defending our public access to our public lands, and habitat security. We have a lot at stake here for our public trust and for future generations.

ADDITIONALLY, if you have any Crazy Mountains history, records or trail use you would like to share, please email me at:


Check it out
Public Land Ownership in the United States database, maps and reports by Headwaters Economics


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Enhancing Montana's Wildlife & Habitat

Thank you,
Kathryn QannaYahu
Helena, MT

Monday, June 17, 2019

Crazy Mountains Lawsuit - How you can help

Crazy Mountains Lawsuit - How you can help

Western Environmental Law Center, the firm handling our Crazy Mountains Public Access case against the Forest Service, Custer Gallatin National Forest, has set up a dedicated contribution page, specific to the Crazy Mountains Public Access. If you would like to lend a hand to our public lands, to become a fellow contributor, invested and fighting to maintain the public’s right to access public lands and waters in the Crazy Mountains, please click the link below.

Click to become a Contributor to the Crazy Mountains Public Access

We’re in court fighting for the public’s right to access the Crazy Mountains in Montana. Public trails leading to the Crazies are currently obstructed by unofficial locked gates, and official Forest Service signage has even been removed. The Forest Service is unwilling to reopen the trails, forcing us into the courtroom. Help WELC, Friends of the Crazy Mountains, Enhancing Montana’s Wildlife and Habitat, Skyline Sportsmen’s Alliance, and Backcountry Hunters & Anglers reopen these trails by donating to our legal fund. 
"Western Environmental Law Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Our tax identification number is 93-1010269. Your entire donation is tax-deductible as a charitable contribution as allowed by law. Western Environmental Law Center has not provided any goods or services to you for contributions received." 
To donate by check, please mail to:

Western Environmental Law Center

120 Shelton McMurphey Blvd., Suite 340
Eugene, Oregon 97401
To donate by phone, to learn about other ways of giving, or to make recurring gifts through automatic funds transfer, please contact Michelle Loth at 206-487-7244 or 
I (Kathryn/ still have some research to finish, if you would like to contribute towards these research efforts, please make a RESEARCH note in the ADDITIONAL COMMENTS section on the WELC Donate page, it would be greatly appreciated.

ADDITIONALLY, if you have any Crazy Mountains history, records or trail use you would like to share, please email me at:

Recent news articles: 

6/11/2019 Groups sue Forest Service over access issues in Crazy Mountains by Brett French, Billings Gazette

6/10/2019 Groups sue over trail access in Crazy Mountains by Michael Wright, Bozeman Chronicle

6/11/2019 Groups sue Forest Service over trails in the Crazies by Justin Post, Livingston Enterprise

Monday, June 10, 2019

Press Release - Crazy Mountains Lawsuit Filed

For immediate release 
June 10, 2019 

Kathryn QannaYahu, Enhancing Montana’s Wildlife and Habitat,, 406-579-7748
Matthew Bishop, attorney, Western Environmental Law Center,, 406-324-8011
Katie McKalip, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers,, 406-240-9262
Michael Kauffman, attorney,, 406-495-8080 

Public Land Advocates: Forest Service Must Reopen Public Trails in Montana’s Crazy Mountains 

Coalition of sportsmen-conservationists contends the Forest Service is abdicating its duty to uphold and
defend public access to historical trails

HELENA, Mont. – A coalition of conservation-based groups filed a lawsuit today against the U.S. Forest Service to maintain traditional public access opportunities in the Crazy Mountains of Montana. The coalition includes Friends of the Crazy Mountains, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, Enhancing Montana’s Wildlife and Habitat, and Skyline Sportsmen.They are represented by the Western Environmental Law Center and the Drake Law Firm. 

The groups’ challenge hinges on the Forest Service’s continued lack of progress and unresponsiveness in maintaining the public’s right to access public lands and waters in the Crazy Mountains. In February, the coalition submitted a letter to the Forest Service summarizing concerns over public access in the Crazies and notifying the agency of its intent to sue should access issues fail to be resolved. 

"The upper levels of the Forest Service chose not to respond or address our local public access concerns and repeated complaints of obstruction,” said Brad Wilson of Friends of the Crazy Mountains, a retired Park County assistant road supervisor and deputy sheriff. “Due to the Forest Service’s negligence, we had no choice but to appeal to the court.” 

The coalition contends that the public, has longstanding and permanent public access to Montana’s Crazy Mountains. The lawsuit charges that until recently the Forest Service supported and maintained the public’s access to the trails, but certain Forest Service leaders now are abdicating their duty to protect and preserve public access there. The suit specifies four trails, two on the west side and two on the east side of the mountain range, that are mapped as public trails, are well known and have been traditionally used by the public but where certain landowners now are illegally and impermissibly attempting to deny public access (Porcupine Lowline #267, Elk Creek #195, East Trunk #115/136 and Sweet Grass #122). 

Hearing about attempts to obstruct public access obstruction in the Crazy Mountains, I began over 1,100 hours of documentation, FOIA requests to the Forest Service, and historical research that verified these trails are public,” said Kathryn QannaYahu of EMWH. “Especially compelling were the county railroad grant deeds of private land, containing the words 'easement in the public.' What I found angered me, because the public has easement interests on these four trails, which the Service isn't protecting on our behalf. On the contrary, they're allowing certain landowners to attempt to obstruct public access and undermine my and the public's ability to access historic trials in the Crazy Mountains.” 

In a response to Sen. Steve Daines dated Oct. 2, 2015, Forest Supervisor Mary Erickson wrote, “The Forest Service maintains that it holds unperfected prescriptive rights on this trail system, as well as up Sweet Grass Creek to the north based on a history of maintenance with public funds and historic and continued public and administrative use.” 

We have been transparent in our goal of restoring public access to the Crazy Mountains,” said Tony Schoonen of the Skyline Sportsmen and a member of the Montana Outdoor Hall of Fame. “Our coalition has committed substantial work to researching the situation in the Crazies, and we plan to continue pursuing this goal in the public eye. While it’s hardly surprising that some politicians and out-of-state bureaucrats are seeking to steal access to our land, we refuse to let it go without a fight.” 

The Forest Service is bound to do its job and maintain access to these trails,” said Matthew Bishop of the Western Environmental Law Center. “It’s just that simple. This means managing and maintaining the trails, replacing and reinstalling national forest trail markers and signs, and ensuring public access on our public trails in the Crazy Mountains.” 

In the words of the Forest Service’s own attorneys regarding one of these trails: “Indeed, it would be irresponsible of the Forest Service to simply abandon these easement rights or fail to reflect their existence in the travel plan simply to avoid the souring of relationships between landowners and recreational groups.” 

These trails are public and were managed that way for many years. We stand with those hardworking Forest Service employees committed to responsibly managing our public lands and waters,” concluded John Sullivan, chair of the Montana chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. “Forest Service leadership has stated that these trails are public, yet somewhere along the line their tune changed. We have no intention of standing idly by while this faction engages in the very behavior it has deemed irresponsible. We will fight for the public’s right to access these public lands and waters, which are central to our Montana way of life.”

Click to become a Contributor to Crazy Mountains Public Access

Photos and map of the trails are available here.  

I want to thank those individuals who have subscribed and contributed, which has assisted in my research on the Crazy Mountains over the years, more recently Montana Sportsmen Alliance, Montana Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, Dan Mahn, Nancy Ostlie, Greg Munther, Gayle Joslin, Donald, Stein, Paul Olson, Hallie Rugheimer, Mike Korn, Brad Wilson, John Daggett, Dwayne Garner and James McGehee.

I still have some research to finish, if you would like to contribute towards these efforts, it would be greatly appreciated.

Click to be a Contributor or Subscriber to
Enhancing Montana's Wildlife & Habitat

Thank you,
Kathryn QannaYahu
Helena, MT