Stakeholder Spotlight: Michael Donch with the Custer Gallatin NF

Michael moved back to Bozeman in 2001 and started managing the Custer Gallatin National Forest’s green fleet of vehicles. When he started as Fleet Manager there was only a singular hybrid vehicle in the fleet, a 2005 Ford Hybrid Escape that was driven. In 2008 and in 2010, he added three more Hybrid Escape’s to the fleet. And in 2011, Michael requested grant money to buy a Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid electric vehicle and to purchase solar panels to provide electricity to power the Volt. This vehicle greatly decreased the amount of coal burned for fuel and the solar panels installed generated 3,830 kWh of energy in 2018, thanks to Michael’s efforts. This amount of solar energy generated is equivalent to 2.7 metric tons of CO2 or 305 gallons of gas saved. At this time the solar panels have been up for 80 months and have generated about 25,600 kWh of electricity. Furthermore, the energy generated is being returned to the grid and then back to the green fleet vehicles through overnight charging. Michael has continued to apply for alternative fuel funding and has been awarded money each year to upgrade the Custer Gallatin National Forest’s green vehicles. Overall, the Custer Gallatin National Forest is one of the greenest fleets in the National Forest system with five hybrid vehicles and soon five plug-in hybrid vehicles as well. Michael Donch has been very successful as a Fleet Manager and has made steps towards creating an environmentally conscious fleet of vehicles for the Custer Gallatin National Forest. It is a common misconception that electric vehicles are not a viable option in our region and a 4-wheel drive truck is always needed, however, we are fortunate to have the Forest Service in our region effectively using electric vehicles. If the agency that serves the rugged national forest can successfully use electric vehicles, this encourages all to reexamine what can work for them.