Timely article concerning Flathead area bear conflict management problems . . .
Privately-run campgrounds are adding another complication for wildlife managers trying to reduce human conflicts with grizzly bears, experts said this week.
On Thursday, the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem subcommittee met in Kalispell to review last year’s management of NCDE grizzly bears and discuss future challenges as more people with little wildlife awareness move to western Montana. Another 50 members of the committee and the public joined the meeting online.
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks grizzly research biologist Cecily Costello summarized the 2021 data that showed the NCDE population is stable based upon the 2017 Conservation Strategy criteria. However, 44 bears, including 11 cubs, died within the primary conservation area and the surrounding Zone 1 buffer area – stretching from Eureka south to the Ninemile Valley, east over Rogers Pass and north through the Blackfeet Reservation.
[Updated original April 30 post on May 3 to incorporate various “The Last Best Ride” errata.] The Flathead National Forest has released a “Special Uses Scoping Letter” dated April 26 (PDF, 194KB) discussing this year’s batch of pending Special Use Permits (SUP’s). There has been no press release yet. I suspect we’ll see one next week.
I have had no opportunity to do a deep dive yet, but there are ten SUP’s that affect the North Fork to a greater or lesser extent. I have highlighted those items in the scoping letter and added links to their project documentation. They range from the usual collection of hiking, biking and motorized activities, to a trail run up Nasukoin Mountain, and a late-September marathon from Big Creek to Columbia Falls. Details, including maps, are posted on the forest’s “Projects” page: https://www.fs.usda.gov/projects/flathead/landmanagement/projects. The cover letter lists contact information for comments and inquiries.
Note that most of the project permits impacting the North Fork are not being handled by Hungry Horse-Glacier View Ranger District personnel. Also note that the Forest Service is only responsible for activities occurring on their lands – the marathon, for instance, is mostly a city/county/state issue.
The deadline for comments is May 18!
Justine Vallieres was recently named the new Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks wildlife conflict management specialist to fill the role of longtime grizzly bear manager Tim Manley.
Vallieres worked as a technician under Manley for four years and worked under wolf biologists Kent Laudon and Diane Boyd for one year each prior to that. She’s originally from New Hampshire and has a degree in applied animal science and wildlife from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. To date, she’s says she’s worked with about 100 grizzly bears through her tenure and learned a lot from Manley, who retired last year.
Recently announced on Facebook by Tim Manley . . .
Congratulations to Justine Vallieres! She is the new Wildlife Conflict Specialist for Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (Region 1) based out of Kalispell.
I retired at the end of 2021. Justine was one of several qualified individuals that applied for the job and was selected by the interview committee. I know Justine will do a great job!
Flathead Rivers Alliance is hosting the Flathead Wild & Scenic River CRMP 101: How does management of Wild & Scenic Rivers work? free live webinar on Wednesday, March 30th, 2022, from 7:00-8:00 pm MST. In anticipation of the public participation portion on the Three Forks of the Flathead CRMP draft, this live webinar provides an opportunity to learn the ins and outs of river management plans from regional and local experts. An opportunity for the public to participate in CRMPs only happens every 15 to 20 years. Registration is required for this FREE webinar. If you don’t plan on attending virtually, you can register to receive a video recording and submit your questions via email ahead of time. Learn more: www.flatheadrivers.org/events
Webinar Registration: https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/6116443358206/WN_E7n1YQ8HTkiwI9wwKy1ZiQ
Also, the Flathead Rivers Alliance is ramping up for the 2022 river season and recruiting 20-30 volunteer team members! Are you passionate about the river system that inspired a national protected Wild and Scenic River system? They are expanding their River Ambassador program and officially launching a River Recreation Monitoring Survey program.
- April 12th, 2022 6:00-8:00 pm River Ambassador Training
- April 14th, 2022 6:00-8:00 pm River Recreation Monitoring Training
There are a number of ways to give your time including helping with their volunteer programs on the North, Middle and South Forks of the Flathead River. Save the above dates and RSVP at email@example.com if you’re interested in one or both of their volunteer program trainings or other opportunities.
Flathead National Forest is developing a Travel Plan and comments are due by Tuesday, February 22. It’s important for them to hear from people that there should be no motorized or mechanized transportation in the Recommended Wilderness in the northern Whitefish Range. These northern areas should be managed just like Wilderness.
Please write a short message to that effect and make sure to communicate your personal connection to the Whitefish Range.
Address the message to: Forest Supervisor Kurt Steele and District Ranger Rob Davies and send it by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Federal protections for gray wolves have been restored, except for those states where gray wolf endangered species status has already been removed by congress . . .
A judge has ordered federal protections restored for gray wolves across much of the U.S. after they were removed in the waning days of the Trump administration.
U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White said in Thursday’s ruling that the Fish and Wildlife Service failed to show wolf populations could be sustained in the Midwest and portions of the West without protection under the Endangered Species Act.
Wildlife advocates had argued state-sponsored hunting threatened to reverse the gray wolf’s recovery over the past several decades.
The ruling does not directly impact wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, which remain under state jurisdiction.
Related reading: Interior Secretary Deb Haaland Speaks Up On Wolves, But Is It Enough? – Mountain Journal
Flathead Rivers Alliance announces a two-part live webinar speaker series ahead of the anticipated spring public comment period for the Three Forks of the Flathead Wild and Scenic River Comprehensive River Management Plan. This is an opportunity to learn about the ins and outs of Wild and Scenic Rivers and river management plans from expert regional and local managers and advocates. Additionally, gain an understanding of how to be an active participant during the public portion of the river management plan process that only happens every fifteen to twenty years.
Flathead Wild & Scenic River Webinar Series
- February 16th, 2022 7:00-8:00 PM MST| Webinar #1: The Wild & Scenic River that Connects Us
- March 30th, 2022 7:00-8:00 PM MST | Webinar #2: CRMP 101- How does management of Wild and Scenic Rivers work?
Registration is required for this free webinar series. If you don’t plan on attending virtually, you can register to receive a video recording and submit your questions via email. Live transcription is available during the webinar. Learn more and register at flatheadrivers.org/events.
Did you know the Middle Fork of the Flathead River was the birthplace for the idea of a National Wild and Scenic Rivers system? Designated by Congress on October 12, 1976 (Public Law 94-486), the Three Forks of the Flathead Wild and Scenic River are currently managed under the 1980 Flathead River Management Plan. For the last two years, the Flathead National Forest and Glacier National Park have been drafting an updated CRMP for these rivers that they cooperatively manage, taking into account significant increase of shore and float usage and an obligation to protect the river system’s Outstanding Remarkable Values.
Join Flathead Rivers Alliance to learn about the significance of Wild and Scenic Rivers, responsibilities for managing the 219 mile Three Forks of the Flathead River as a Wild and Scenic River System, and what’s around the bend for Comprehensive River Management Plan (CRMP) public participation and local initiatives.
More information on webinar speaker series registration, volunteer and donation opportunities, and quick reference CRMP FAQ can be found at flatheadrivers.org/comprehensive-river-management-plan.
The annual Wilderness Speaker Series will return to Flathead Valley Community College in 2022, thanks to the ongoing partnership of the Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation, the Northwest Montana Lookout Association and the Flathead-Kootenai Chapter of Wild Montana, with support from the Natural Resources Conservation & Management program at FVCC.
Large Community Room (#139) at FVCC’s Art and Technology Building from 7:00-8:15 PM on the second Thursday of February, March and April.
No charge for these engaging community events and all are welcome to join the discussion.
- Tickets …er, uh… vehicle reservations will be required to enter the park’s Going-to-the-Sun (GTSR) corridor and at Polebridge.
- A separate reservation is required for the GTSR and for Polebridge. GTSR reservations are good for 3 days, between 6:00am and 4:00pm; Polebridge reservations are good for only 1 day, between 6:00am and 6:00pm.
- Vehicle reservations will be required from May 27 to September 11. They will be available 120 days in advance on a rolling window starting March 2 at 8:00am. Like last year, reservations cost $2.00.
- Vehicle reservations can be purchased from recreation.gov, either online or through their call center.
North Fork specific details not mentioned in the press release (Camas Road transit, local boating access, etc.) will be discussed at the Interlocal on February 9.