Apr 26 2016

Grizzlies potentially at risk on 2 million acres after delisting

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

Grizzly on ranch east of Yellowstone - Wyoming Game and Fish Department

Grizzly on ranch east of Yellowstone – Wyoming Game and Fish Department

Here’s a pretty good discussion of the issues grizzly bears could face in parts of Wyoming after delisting goes into effect. Kudos to Bill Fordyce for spotting this one . . .

Wyoming will “discourage” grizzly bears — likely by hunting — from thousands of square miles they currently occupy in the Yellowstone ecosystem, state officials said recently while describing pending plans.

Grizzly bears can’t easily live without conflict in 3,236 square miles they now occupy on the fringes of the Yellowstone ecosystem, Wyoming wildlife authorities say, and the federal government agrees. Consequently, grizzlies now living on some of the ecosystem edges won’t be counted in official censuses and will be moved off, killed or hunted, sometimes even before they conflict with human activities, pending state and federal plans say.

Nevertheless, after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removes the Yellowstone-area grizzly from the list of threatened species — a process that could be completed by the end of this year — the agency will continue to monitor grizzly populations in the core of the ecosystem. Area managers will strive for a population of 674 bears in the 19,270 square-mile central zone known as Demographic Monitoring Area. If that population is well distributed and fecund with breeding females, there’s enough habitat and regulations to make federal wildlife managers confident grizzlies will persist.

Read more . . .

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Apr 26 2016

Ten Lakes travel management plan open for comments

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

Big Therriault Lake - Kootenai National Forest

Big Therriault Lake – Kootenai National Forest

If you wish to comment on the Ten Lakes travel management plan, You’ve got until May 13 . . .

The Kootenai National Forest is accepting public comments on its proposed Ten Lakes Travel Management Project, which would guide motorized recreation rules in and around the Ten Lakes Wilderness Study Area.

Comments are due May 13, with a draft environmental impact statement for the plan expected later that month. The forest hopes to release a final environmental impact statement in August.

The project area consists of the Ten Lakes Wilderness Study Area and some of the common entrance points surrounding it. The plan addresses motorized use, which includes snowmobiles, dirt bikes and four-wheelers, as well as mechanized uses such as mountain bikes.

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Apr 24 2016

Glacier Park developing long-term fisheries plan

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

Native westslope cutthroat trout and bull trout

Native westslope cutthroat trout and bull trout

Glacier National Park is in the initial stages of developing an ambitions fisheries plan . . .

Glacier National Park Superintendent Jeff Mow announced last week the launch of a two-year comprehensive planning process to address large-scale issues affecting the park’s iconic lakes and streams, including non-native invasive species and climate change.

“Glacier National Park’s native aquatic ecosystems are essential in maintaining regional biodiversity,” said Mow. “However, the Park’s lakes and streams are increasingly threatened by non-native invasive fish and other organisms, and by the impacts of climate change. This plan will evaluate a variety of methods for addressing these threats in a comprehensive way.”

Park officials say the purpose of the plan is to develop an integrated and adaptive approach to the restoration, conservation and future management of native aquatic species and their habitats across the park, including the federally-listed threatened bull trout and the state-listed westslope cutthroat trout.

Read more . . .

To submit public comments online or view the scoping document, visit parkplanning.nps.gov/FishAquaticsPlanEIS. Comments can also be mailed to: Superintendent, Glacier National Park, Attn: Fish and Aquatics Plan/EIS, P.O. Box 128, West Glacier, Montana 59936.

See also:

Glacier considers ambitious fisheries research plan (Missoulian)

Glacier Park will hold meetings on fishery plan (Hungry Horse News)

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Apr 24 2016

Feds sued over bull trout recovery plan

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

Bull Trout

Bull Trout

As promised, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is being sued over its bull trout recovery plan . . .

A pair of environmental groups on April 19 filed a lawsuit against the federal government alleging that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s plan to recover threatened bull trout is inadequate and violates the Endangered Species Act.

The groups, Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Friends of the Wild Swan, challenged the agency’s final recovery plan in U.S. District Court in Oregon, saying that it “fails to ensure the long-term survival and recovery.”

Bull trout were listed under the Endangered Species Act as “threatened” in 1999, and the FWS’ plan to recover the species is more than 15 years in the making. The plan, finalized last September, immediately drew criticism from conservation groups who for two decades have been at the vanguard of legal challenges on the road toward bull trout recovery.

Read more . . .

Also read: Bull Trout Recovery Plan, filed complaint (PDF, 240KB)

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Apr 24 2016

Senate passes energy bill; permanently reauthorizes LWCF

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

Well, now… we’ve got some bipartisan action on energy, as well as on the Land and Water Conservation Fund . . .

In a show of bipartisan collaboration, the U.S. Senate passed a sweeping bill that reforms many of the nation’s energy policies and boosts research and development of new technology, including so-called clean coal, while also making strides for environmental conservation, including the permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

The bill, passed April 20 with an 85-12 vote, will try to mesh with similar House legislation and, if signed into law by President Obama, would be the nation’s first major energy reform in nine years.

Read more . . .

Also read: Montana to Receive Nearly $900,000 in LWCF Funds

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Apr 24 2016

Grizzly recovery coordinator to retire after 35 Years

Published by under News

Chris Servheen

Chris Servheen

Chris Servheen, whose name has appeared in quite a few grizzly bear stories here over the years, is retiring this month . . .

The nation’s first and only grizzly bear recovery coordinator is stepping down after 35 years, saying the threatened species has recovered enough for him to retire.

Chris Servheen of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is retiring at the end of April. Wayne Kasworm will become acting recovery coordinator.

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Apr 24 2016

Nuisance Columbia Falls grizzly moved to North Fork

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

Grizzly bear release in Whale Creek drainage, April 11, 2016

Grizzly bear release in Whale Creek drainage, April 11, 2016

Yet another delinquent grizzly was moved to the North Fork earlier this month. The Hungry Horse News has the story. Also, check out the video . . .

A 3-year-old male grizzly bear was captured April 10 at a private residence along Tamarack Road northwest of Columbia Falls. The 211 pound bear was captured by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks bear and lion specialist Erik Wenum after the resident reported a bear had killed some of his young chickens.

The young bear was anesthetized, radio-collared, and released by grizzly bear management specialist Tim Manley. The Interagency decision was made to release the bear back into the wild since it had no previous known conflicts. The grizzly bear was released on the afternoon of April 11 in the Whale Creek drainage of the North Fork of the Flathead, 34 straight line miles from where it was caught.

Read more . . .

See also: Video of the bear being released

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Apr 24 2016

Remembering bear expert Chuck Jonkel

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

Chuck Jonkel

Chuck Jonkel

Articles remembering and praising Chuck Jonkel continue to roll in, including the below column by Larry Wilson and nice pieces by Rob Breeding and Chris Peterson . . .

Dr. Charles ‘Chuck’ Jonkel passed over The Great Divide this week. He never owned property on the North Fork, but spent so many years here researching bears that I feel he was an actual North Forker.

My first memories of Chuck came in the late 1950s or early 1960s when he was on the North Fork doing research on black bears. Mel Ruder did an extensive article in the HHN with pictures of Chuck going into the den of a hibernating black bear to work on the sleeping bear.

Read more . . .

Also read:

The Great Bear’s BFF (Flathead Beacon)

Biologist Jonkel ‘spoke truth to power’ (Hungry Horse News)

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Apr 17 2016

Forest Service backs off (for now) on reductions in Montana trail maintenance funding

Published by under News

Trail 2, mile 2, Flathead NF, July 10, 2014 - by W. K. Walker

Trail 2, mile 2, Flathead NF, July 10, 2014 – by W. K. Walker

In the face of some angry senatorial blow-back, the Forest Service has restored full trail maintenance funding in Region 1. For now . . .

The U.S. Forest Service has dropped its proposal to reduce funding for trail maintenance in Montana. The agency originally planned to reduce appropriations for Region One, which includes Montana, by 30 percent over the next three years. This included a potential loss of $1 million to Montana’s federal trail budget this year.

U.S. Sens. Steve Daines and Jon Tester criticized Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell last week for failing to prioritize trail maintenance in Montana. The agency proposed revising its formula for funding trail maintenance across the U.S. with an added emphasis on higher population centers. In Region One, there are 28,000 miles of federally managed trails.

The agency on Friday said it would reconsider the formula change and withdrew the proposal.

Read more . . .

Also read: Forest Service backs off planned cuts in trail maintenance in Montana (Missoulian)

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Apr 17 2016

The New West: Democracy falters In delisting of Greater Yellowstone bears?

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

Grizzly Bear - Thomas Lefebvre, via Unsplash

Grizzly Bear – Thomas Lefebvre, via Unsplash

Here’s a strong editorial by Todd Wilkinson, Environmental Columnist for Explore Big Sky, making the case for disallowing trophy hunting of grizzly bears, even after they are delisted . . .

Nowhere in the legal framework of the federal Endangered Species Act does it mandate that animals removed from federal protection be subjected to trophy sport hunting.

America spent millions of dollars reversing the downward spiral of bald eagles. Indeed, someone today could argue that the majestic white-crowned raptors would be fun to shoot and look stunningly beautiful as dead stuffed prizes of avian taxidermy.

Yet when the great birds were finally declared biologically recovered in 2007, society didn’t celebrate by turning around and initiating sport seasons on eagles, selling licenses to generate revenue for the coffers of state wildlife agencies. Why not?

Read more . . .

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