Hebgen Basin is home to a myriad of flora and fauna some of which is unique to our community's corner of public land and many of which stretch out across the Custer and Gallatin National Forests as well as the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
Nearly 1,150 species of flowering plants are represented across Hebgen Basin and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Surrounding the Hebgen Lake Ranger District and the Gallatin National Forest is a maze of public land management direction that aims to work together on larger landscape level projects, where possible. Coordination with adjacent public lands is critical to ensuring that management of resources is successful.
Moving around the Hebgen Lake Ranger District like a clock, to the north is the Bozeman Ranger District of the Gallatin National Forest, to the east we are bordered by Yellowstone National Park, south and southwest one finds the Caribou-Targhee National Forest in Region 4 and to the northwest you will find the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest in Region 1.
Here, outside your backdoor, recreationists looking to explore spring and the hundreds of wildflowers possible should take a stroll along Johnson Lake, Watkins Creek or Fir Ridge.
Wildflower identification books are plentiful and easy to come by and many wildflowers are bursting right now and will continue for the next few weeks. Try to pick out the Arrowleaf Balsamroot or the Heartleaf Arnica, perhaps you can spot the bright Glacier Lilies, the tiny Shooting Stars or distinguish the many varieties of Penstemon and Phlox.
As your wildflower trekking or other adventures lead you outside the Hebgen Lake Ranger District and into multiple other land jurisdictions take care to learn the rules, regulations and benefits that come with that tract of land and agency, whether it is another National Forest you enjoy or a National Park.
Land management directions in regards to multiple uses of recreation, firewood collecting, camping, motorized uses and fire restrictions are in effect at various times and places throughout the year or run year-round to protect the public land, which is your resource.
(Cavan Fitzsimmons is the Hebgen Lake District Ranger.)