Oct 18 2016

Court ruling reopens comment period on wolverine proposed listing rule

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

Wolverine on the rocks - USFWS

Wolverine on the rocks – USFWS

Three years ago, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) proposed listing the wolverine as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act, but later reversed course. They got dragged into court over this action and, last April, a federal judge told them to act as quickly as possible to protect the species.

So… USFWS is now accepting comments on a proposed rule to list the wolverine as threatened. Here’s the meat of the official press release, which includes instructions on how to submit comments regarding the proposal. Note that the deadline is November 17, 2016 . . .

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is reopening the public comment period on a proposed rule to list the North American wolverine as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The Service had proposed to list the North American wolverine, which is a Distinct Population Segment of wolverines found in the lower 48 states, but withdrew its proposal in 2014 after concluding that the factors affecting it were not as significant as were once thought.

However, the District Court for the District of Montana overturned the Service’s withdrawal, effectively returning the wolverine population to the point at which it was proposed for listing as threatened. A threatened listing would mean this wolverine population is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.

The Service has considered the North American wolverine as proposed for listing since the April court decision. This Federal Register Notice is an administrative step to implement the court ruling.

The Service will be starting a new review on the wolverine population to determine whether it meets the definition of a threatened or endangered species, or if the animal is warranted for listing at all. Any decision on whether to list or not list the wolverine under the ESA will be based on the best scientific and commercial information available. We anticipate new climate change information will assist us in this decision.

The Service is asking for any scientific or commercial information on the North American wolverine population during the 30-day public comment period that closes November 17, 2016.

The proposed 2013 listing rule is available online at https://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/es/wolverine.php. To submit comments on https://www.regulations.gov, search for Docket Number FWS–R6–ES–2016–0106, and click on “Comment Now!”

Or, you can mail comments to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: Docket No. FWS–R6–ES–2016–0106, U.S. Fish & Wildlife, MS: BPHC, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803.

The Service will post all information received on https://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided.

Wolverines look like a small bear with a bushy tail, and each of its five toes is armed with curved, semi-retractile claws. In the lower 48 states, they live in the Pacific Northwest and Northern Rocky Mountains, with occasional sightings in Colorado, California, and Nevada. Learn more at https://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/mammals/wolverine/.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service.

For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/. Connect with our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/USFWSMountainPrairie, follow our tweets at http://twitter.com/USFWSMtnPrairie, watch our YouTube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/usfws and download photos from our Flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwsmtnprairie/.

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Oct 17 2016

Documentary about Badger-Two Medicine coming to Kalispell, Oct 20

Published by under News

From an MWA announcement released this morning . . .

Our Last Refuge documentary

Our Last Refuge documentary

Don’t miss the Kalispell screening of “Our Last Refuge,”a documentary film about the sacred Badger-Two Medicine area and the decades-long struggle to protect it from oil and gas development.

The film features voices from all sides of the struggle — Blackfeet elders, local conservationists, and even the law firm pushing for oil exploration. All together, they chronicle the epic saga of this unique landscape and the current legal challenge over it, the outcome of which could determine the fate of sensitive and sacred lands nationwide.

“Our Last Refuge” is the first in-depth telling of this critical story at a moment in time when the stakes are at their highest.

Thursday, October 20, 6:30 – 8 p.m.
Flathead Valley Community College
Large Community Room, Arts & Technology Building, Room 139
777 Grandview Drive, Kalispell, MT 59901

For more information, contact Casey Perkins, MWA Rocky Mountain Front field director, at (406) 466-2600 or at cperkins@wildmontana.org.

Note: There is also a free panel discussion in Missoula on Tuesday, October 18, from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. featuring Blackfeet Tribal members speaking about the Badger-Two Medicine area of the Rocky Mountain Front and the efforts of the Blackfeet and others to protect this sacred and wild area from oil and gas development.

Hosted by the UM Native American Studies program, the event will feature scenes from the “Our Last Refuge” documentary about the Badger and the fight save it.

The event will be held at
University of Montana – The Payne Family Native American Center – Rm. 105
32 Campus Drive, Missoula, MT 59812

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Oct 17 2016

Bob Funk and the Wild and Scenic River Act

Published by under Environmental Issues,History

A recent article in the New Yorker about the Craighead brothers triggered a note from Ray Hart concerning North Forker Bob Funk, who was well acquainted with the Craigheads and a major player in getting wild and scenic river status for the North Fork.

See the NFNews site for the story . . .

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Oct 16 2016

Lynx rule becomes law, but will it stand?

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

Canada lynx sitting - USFWS

Canada lynx sitting – USFWS

Here’s a well-researched piece by Rob Chaney of the Missoulian. It discusses the status of the ‘lynx rule,’ which recently survived a whole series of judicial appeals . . .

A court order to do more work on protecting Canadian lynx in Rocky Mountain forests could become a late-season battleground for congressional action this winter.

Last week, the Supreme Court let stand a U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that the U.S. Forest Service has to take a big-picture look at how it protects critical lynx habitat across 12 million acres touching 11 national forests. While wildlife advocates claimed a major win for the Endangered Species Act, timber industry supporters vowed to rewrite laws to speed up logging projects.

“It’s now known as the Cottonwood decision, and it affects pretty much the whole Nort

hwest,” said Julia Altemus of the Montana Wood Products Association. “I’m hoping we can find a path forward, either legally or by a congressional path.”

Read more . . .

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Oct 16 2016

Remembering the Craigheads, pioneers of wildlife biology

Published by under Commentary,Environmental Issues

The New Yorker has a first-rate retrospective on the Craigheads. Thanks to Monica Graff and Patti Craig-Hart for passing this along . . .

At dawn on Sunday, September 18th, a blanket of clouds hung over the tawny grass mountainsides around Missoula, Montana. The cottonwoods had begun to turn yellow. On the south edge of town, in the home that the retired wildlife biologist John Craighead had occupied with his wife, Margaret, for six decades, the couple’s daughter, Karen, had been sleeping only intermittently. For years, she had shared the care of her aged parents with her younger brother, Johnny, a commitment that carried the two of them and their elder brother, Derek, well into their own senior years. During the previous night, Karen had risen, as she always did, to look in on their parents. She found them both sleeping peacefully. But by morning, when she and Johnny checked again, their father had died. It was a month after his hundredth birthday.

Continue reading . . .

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Oct 15 2016

First look at grizzly bear ‘family tree’ study

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

Grizzly bear sow with three cubs - NPS photo

Grizzly bear sow with three cubs – NPS photo

The first results from a Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem grizzly bear “family tree” study are encouraging . . .

Using genetic analysis U.S. Geological Survey Scientist Tabitha Graves and Nate Mikle recently completed a first look at the “family tree” of grizzly bears in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem.

The 8-million plus acre area stretches from Glacier National Park south to Ovando. The pair looked at genetic data gathered from 1,115 bears in a 2004 study done by researcher Kate Kendall and again in 2009-2012 through hair follicle samples of bears.

The family tree, printed out on one sheet of paper, stretches 20 feet, Graves noted in an interview last week. The thrust of this initial study was to determine the genetic diversity of bears on the fringes of the ecosystem, namely in the southeast and southwest corners.

Read more . . .

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Sep 26 2016

Get your Forest Plan comments in now! Deadline is Oct 3!

Lake in Flathead National Forest

Lake in Flathead National Forest

Dear North Fork Preservation Association Member,

With all of the wild public lands in the North Fork, there is not one acre of designated Wilderness….yet.  This needs to change and YOU can play a significant role in this by writing a comment on the Flathead Forest Plan TODAY!

The Flathead National Forest is in the midst of its forest planning process.  Several years ago, members of NFPA participated in the Whitefish Range Partnership (WRP), a local citizen collaborative, in anticipation of the forest planning process.  The WRP represented various interests (loggers, snowmobilers, mountain bikers, backcountry horsemen, and wilderness advocates) and consensus was reached on 83,000 acres of proposed wilderness in the northern Whitefish Range.  This area includes the most spectacular peaks in the Whitefish Range: Nasukoin, Tuchuck, Hefty, Thompson-Seton, and Review.  We are hoping that the Flathead National Forest will include the northern Whitefish Range as Recommended Wilderness in their final Forest Plan and not allow any non-conforming uses in recommended wilderness.  (Recommended Wilderness is the first step in getting this area designated as Wilderness by Congress.)

A personal letter from you makes the biggest impact.  If you have hiked any of these peaks, please mention this in your letter.  If you don’t have time to write a personal letter and want the easy way, just go to www.wildmontana.org/flathead and add your name and contact information to the letter that was written by the Montana Wilderness Association.

If you write your own personalized letter, send it to:

Chip Weber
Forest Supervisor
Flathead National Forest
650 Wolfpack Way
Kalispell, MT 59901

Please include support for the following things:

For the North Fork—

  1. Recommended Wilderness in the northern Whitefish Range following the map submitted by the Whitefish Range Partnership.
  2. Manage recommended Wilderness just like designated Wilderness, prohibiting motorized use and mountain biking.

For other areas in the Flathead National Forest–

  1. Expansion of the Bob Marshall Wilderness northward in the Swan Range to protect the Bunker and upper Sullivan Creek area
  2. Protect the Greater Jewel Basin, especially the western slope of the Swan Range, in recommended Wilderness.
  3. Expansion of the Mission Mountains Wilderness to include the lower-elevations, species rich-lands adjacent to it.
  4. Manage recommended Wilderness just like designated Wilderness, prohibiting motorized use and mountain biking.

Also, please support Alternative 3 in the Environmental Impact Statement to keep core grizzly bear habitat managed at the level that it has been in the past…… whether or not the grizzly is delisted.

We have a receptive Forest administration and a good chance of getting recommended wilderness additions if there are lots of comments from citizens.  Your comment is very important!  You can make a real difference! Thanks for taking the time to do this!  The deadline is October 3, so please submit your comments today!!


Warm Regards,
Debo Powers, NFPA President

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Sep 20 2016

Legendary conservationist John Craighead dead at 100

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

First Chuck Jonkel, now John Craighead . . .

John Craighead liked to quote fellow legendary conservationist Aldo Leopold, who once said “we should think like a mountain.”

The philosophy of following nature’s cues and looking “at the fundamentals of things” guided Craighead’s pioneering work in American conservation, its wild rivers and seminal studies of grizzly bears.

“I have listened to the voice of the mountain for most of my life,” said Craighead upon receiving The Wildlife Society’s Aldo Leopold Memorial Award in 1998.

The mountains still talk, but they lost one of their most avid listeners Sunday morning when John Craighead died in his sleep at his home of more than 60 years in southwest Missoula.

Read more . . .

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Sep 19 2016

Prescribed fires planned for the Flathead

From the official press release . . .

Ranger Districts on the Flathead National Forest are planning to conduct multiple fall season prescribed fire projects, when weather, fuel conditions, and air quality is favorable. Burning is expected to start as early as September 16, and will continue through the close of open burning season on November 30, 2015. Smoke will be visible from various places in the Flathead Valley depending on the location of the burn units and weather conditions.

Each project follows a Prescribed Fire Burn Plan. The prescribed fire projects are located, designed and controlled to reduce the potential for adverse effects or escape as a wildland fire. These projects will be in compliance with Montana air quality standards and coordinated with Montana State Department of Environmental Quality to reduce the impacts of smoke to our neighbors, cooperators, and surrounding communities. The project areas include:
Hungry Horse/Glacier View Ranger Districts

  • Red Whale Creek Area – A 1114 acre project is planned in the Red Whale Creek drainage in the North Fork of the Flathead about four miles north of Polebridge. Depending on weather, this burn is planned for the next few weeks. The purpose of the project is to help restore a more historical fire regime to the ecosystem, improve wildlife habitat and reduce hazardous fuels to reduce wildfire risk and aid in potential future fire suppression efforts. In the same area about 31 acres of piles from logging slash will be burned.
  • Heinrude Fuels Project – This work involves burning about 22 acres of debris piles adjacent to Heinrude Creek and the West-side Hungry Horse Reservoir road near the Heinrude cabins.
  • Belton Fuels Project – This project includes the burning of about 15 acres of debris piles adjacent to private property in West Glacier and 176 acres of scattered debris piles between Coram and West Glacier.
  • Essex Area – Work involves the burning of several debris piles and logging slash in the Essex area.
  • Slippery Bill – Work involves the burning of several debris piles and logging slash.
  • Firefighter – Work involves the burning of several debris piles and logging slash.

Tally Lake Ranger District

  • Beaver Lake North Fuels Reduction Project – This project involves the burning of about 5 acres of debris piles adjacent to private property about five miles west of Whitefish.
  • Valley Face Fuels Reduction Project – Work involves the burning of about 69 acres of debris piles adjacent to private property about eight miles southwest of Whitefish along the Tally Lake Road.
  • Ashley Communications Site Project – Work involves the burning of about 4 acres of hand piles around the communications site.
  • Logan 200 Project – Work involves the burning of about 180 acres of hand piles at the north end of Tally Lake east of the campground.
  • Sharptail Project – Work involves the burning of about 17 acres of mechanical piles just off the Star Meadows road.
  • Ashley Lake Project – Work involves the burning of 76 acres of mechanical piles west of Ashley Lake.
  • Herrig Creek Project – Work involves the burning of 95 acres of mechanical piles 2.5 miles north of Little Bitterroot Lake.

Spotted Bear Ranger District

  • Horse Ridge – This project includes burning units along the ridge to the east the East Side Road and north of Spotted Bear complex.
  • Miscellaneous Piles – Piles around the district from a variety of projects will be burned.

Swan Lake Ranger District

  • Wild Cramer – This project includes broadcast and under burning in stands located within the Blacktail Mountain area west of Lakeside, MT. These treatments will use prescribed fire for fuels reduction, vegetation regeneration, and wildlife habitat improvement.
  • Condon Fuels – This project includes broadcast burning in timber stands located within the Condon Fuels project area around Condon, MT in the Swan Valley. These treatments will use prescribed fire for fuels reduction, vegetation regeneration, and wildlife habitat improvement.
  • Pile Burning – Hand or machine piles are located in several locations within the Swan Valley, Blacktail Mountain, Haskill Mountain and miscellaneous piles around the district as a result of but not limited to: logging, hazardous fuels reduction in the wildland urban interface, hazard tree removal, recreation site management and trail or road construction. These piles are burned to reduce fuel loads in these areas. These piles are strategically burned based on their location, access, and weather conditions.

For more information about these projects contact the appropriate Ranger Station:

  • Hungry Horse/Glacier View Ranger Districts: 406/387-3800
  • Tally Lake Ranger District: 406/758-5204
  • Spotted Bear Ranger District: 406-758-5376
  • Swan Lake Ranger District: 406/837-7500

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Sep 19 2016

Conservationists from around the globe gather in Glacier Park

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

St. Mary Lake

St. Mary Lake in Glacier National Park

A world-wide assortment of conservationists met in Glacier Park . . .

What many European visitors to the United States encounter on their first trip to America, the woman from Croatia noted, is New York City.

One of the first things Maja Vasilijevic saw on her first trip to the U.S. was a little different than the bright lights and teeming crowds of Times Square. No, one of Vasilijevic’s first encounters with America included a large herd of bison thundering across a lonely stretch of U.S. Highway 2 on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.

“It’s unique,” said Vasilijevic, who had never in her life seen one of the animals in person. “Not only the bison – the whole landscape.”

Read more . . .

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