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Mineral and Energy Resource Assessment of the Gallatin National Forest (Exclusive of the Absaroka-Beartooth Study Area), in Gallatin, Madison, Meagher, Park, and Sweet Grass Counties, South-Central Montana

Edited by Anna B. Wilson, Jane M. Hammarstrom, and Bradley S. Van Gosen

thumbnail image of report's Cover: View of the Crazy Mountains

In the early 1990’s, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) was party to a joint Memorandum of Understanding with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service (USFS) and the U.S. Bureau of Mines (USBM) to conduct and coordinate mineral resource assessments for the USFS. These assessments were designed to assist the USFS in meeting the requirements of the Wilderness Act of 1964 and the Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Planning Act of 1974, as amended by the National Forest Management Act of 1976. This information is used by the USFS to help formulate plans for management of Federal lands for the reasonably foreseeable future. These plans are updated on a cyclic basis (10 to 15 years) to consider existing and future desired land conditions, to include up-to-date available scientific data, and to reflect current resource-management practices. In addition, the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 requires the Federal land-management agencies to consider the best available scientific information when preparing environmental impact statements and issuing land-use decisions.

Federal lands included in the Gallatin and Custer National Forests contain more than 4 million acres, in 13 discontinuous blocks across southern Montana and into western South Dakota. In order to meet the Forest Service’s most urgent needs for information about the potential for undiscovered resources for this large area, the USGS divided the Forests into several study units. The Absaroka-Beartooth study area, a 1.4-million-acre (5,700 km2; 2,200 mi2) parcel of land directly north of Yellowstone National Park and east of the Yellowstone River, covers parts of both National Forests and was the focus of the first phase of the study. All of the metallic mineral production and most of the recent exploration activity in the Forests are concentrated in the Absaroka-Beartooth study area. The USBM analyzed the results of that study to estimate the portion of the undiscovered metal endowment that could be economically recovered and the probable regional impact of such development. The USGS conducted separate studies for the Custer National Forest in the Pryor Mountains of south-central Montana and for the Ashland Division of the Custer National Forest of southeastern Montana. Cursory review of the mineral resources of the easternmost parts of Custer National Forest, including the Sioux Division near Ekalaka, Montana, and extending into western South Dakota, revealed no evidence for locatable mineral resources, and these areas are not considered further.

This report, a mineral and energy resource assessment of the western and northern parts of the Gallatin National Forest (exclusive of the Absaroka-Beartooth study area), completes the assessment studies of the Gallatin and Custer National Forests.

This report is intended for use with U.S. Geological Survey Geologic Investigations Series I–2584.

Version 1.0

Posted September 2005

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