by Michael Wright, Bozeman Daily Chronicle
Conservation and public lands access advocates are outraged over the reassignment of a Forest Service district ranger who had tangled with landowners over public access in the Crazy Mountains.
Alex Sienkiewicz was removed from his position as the Custer Gallatin National Forest’s Yellowstone District Ranger last week and reassigned to lead the team analyzing a potential mineral withdrawal in the Absaroka Mountains south of Livingston. He also faces an internal review.
The move came after years of trail disputes with landowners in the Crazy Mountains, which fell under his jurisdiction. One such dispute resulted in a hunter being cited for trespassing. The hunter settled the case last week.
Sienkiewicz was known for fighting for his work on preserving traditional access points, and conservation and access advocates see his removal as a troubling precedent. Kathryn QannaYahu, an activist in Bozeman, said she feels the removal of Sienkiewicz was an orchestrated effort among landowners in the area who have influence with major agriculture groups and political leaders.