Cutworm moths have arrived in the high country, along with the bears that eat them . . .
The dinner bell is ringing high in the Mission Mountains, and grizzly bears are heeding the call.
Every year in July, cutworm moths migrate from the plains toward the alpine highlands of the Mission Mountains, where the moths feed on late-blooming alpine wildflowers. Grizzly bears follow. The moths provide grizzlies with the highest source of protein available – even higher than feeding on deer.
The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes have closed about 10,000 acres in the Mission Mountains Tribal Wilderness to let the grizzlies feed without human interruption.
The Summer 2019 North Fork Interlocal Agreement Meeting is at 1:00pm, on Wednesday, July 10 at Sondreson Hall. This year’s sponsor is the North Fork Road Coalition for Health and Safety (NFRCHS).
Interlocal meetings are held twice each year, winter and summer. These semi-annual get-togethers are intended to encourage open discussion between North Fork landowners and neighbors and local, state and federal agencies.
In other words, it’s a big deal if you have an interest in the North Fork.
This summer’s meeting will include a special presentation by the Forest Service on the planned Frozen Moose Project. This is a new vegetation and fuels project in the northern part of the North Fork. Sarah Canepa, NEPA Team Leader, will give a brief overview and answer questions.
Preceding the Interlocal meeting is the annual FireWise Day Workshop at 9:30 a.m. and lunch at noon. Lunch is a community potluck, with the NFRCHS supplying the main course and drinks.
Congratulations to North Forkers Del and Linda Coolidge on establishing a conservation easement protecting their land in the North Fork . . .
The North Fork of the Flathead River valley retains the sort of comparatively intact habitat in which wildlife thrives.
This same habitat seems to inspire in many of the people who share it with four-legged animals, migratory birds, rare plants and wild fish a sense of obligation to serve as stewards.
On Friday, the Flathead Land Trust announced that Del and Linda Coolidge, landowners in the Polebridge area, had donated a conservation easement to the nonprofit that will “conserve in perpetuity” 30 acres of scenic open space important for wildlife.
It’s abut time this happened. The North Fork dodged this bullet (so far). However, other regions downstream from British Columbian coal operations have not been so lucky . . .
In a joint June 13 letter to British Columbia Premier John Horgan, a bipartisan slate of senators from all four states bordering the coal-rich Canadian province is pressing its top official to recognize the urgency of safeguarding U.S. waters from mining pollutants spilling downstream into shared transboundary watersheds.
In the latest and most authoritative appeal for Canadian officials to adopt more stringent water-quality standards, all eight senators from Alaska, Montana, Washington, and Idaho drafted a letter highlighting the ongoing efforts to mitigate the environmental and economic impacts resulting from large-scale hard rock and coal mines in British Columbia, as well as to draw attention to B.C.’s regulatory shortcomings surrounding natural resources shared by the neighboring nations.
“While we appreciate Canada’s engagement to date, we remain concerned about the lack of oversight of Canadian mining projects near multiple transboundary rivers that originate in B.C. and flow into our four U.S. states,” the letter states.
Some very good news about the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act. We’ll see if it flies this time . . .
Citing a decade of groundwork, Sen. Jon Tester has reintroduced his Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act in another attempt to protect wilderness and recreation features around the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex.
More than 100 supporters filled the KettleHouse Brewery taproom here on Friday to cheer the announcement. Among the first to speak was Pyramid Mountain Lumber Chief Operating Officer Loren Rose, who recalled how timber workers teamed up with wilderness advocates to create an award-winning forestry project based on Tester’s unsuccessful Forest Jobs and Recreation Act. He compared that to a three-legged stool, supported by logging work, recreation opportunities and wilderness protection.
“Everyone who collaborates expects to get something out of it, something they couldn’t get otherwise,” Rose said. “Logs on trucks. Acres for wilderness. So far, our collaborative partners have got very little, but they supported us wholeheartedly. The final piece is the wilderness additions. This stool is not going to stand on one leg forever.”
Chris Servheen, recently retired USFWS Grizzly Bear Recovery Manager, is still keeping his hand in. He is quoted extensively in this commentary on bike-bear conflicts in the Mountain Journal. Kudos to Debo Powers for spotting this one . . .
Does mountain biking impact wildlife, any more than hikers and horseback riders do?
More specifically: could rapidly-growing numbers of cyclists in the backcountry of Greater Yellowstone negatively affect the most iconic species—grizzly bears—living in America’s best-known wildland ecosystem?
It’s a point of contention in the debate over how much of the Gallatin Mountains, managed by the U.S. Forest Service, should receive elevated protection under the 1964 Wilderness Act. The wildest core of the Gallatins, located just beyond Yellowstone National Park and extending northward toward Bozeman’s back door, is the 155,000-acre Buffalo-Porcupine Creek Wilderness Study Area.
Here’s a good overview of the grizzly delisting suit currently making its way through the court system . . .
Federal attorneys pushed their case that Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem grizzly bears should be removed from Endangered Species Act protection, arguing in an appeal filed late Friday the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wasn’t required to do a comprehensive review of all grizzlies in the Lower 48 states.
The U.S. Department of Justice’s opening salvo to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals also accused the lower court judge in Missoula of improperly substituting his opinion of the scientific evidence of grizzly genetic diversity for that of FWS biologists.
However, the government said it would not challenge U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen’s ruling that state wildlife agencies aren’t ready to manage the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) bears and haven’t sufficiently studied how delisting one big grizzly population might affect smaller separate populations.
An alert from the Montana Wilderness Association concerning the current BLM Resource Management Plan for the area around Lewiston, in central Montana . . .
The Bureau of Land Management yesterday released a second version of a resource management plan (RMP) draft directing how the agency’s Lewistown Field Office will manage 650,000 surface acres of public lands in central Montana over the next 20 to 30 years.
We’ve dubbed this area “the wild heart of Montana,” because it’s one of America’s last and largest intact prairie ecosystems, supporting one of the most productive populations of ungulates in North America and a thriving host of grassland bird species. It’s a remote and stunning place of buttes, breaks, and unbroken grasslands bordering the Upper Missouri River Breaks, the Charles M. Russell Wildlife Refuge, and the UL Bend Wildlife Refuge. The area epitomizes what makes Montana so special.
But the preferred management option Interior presents in the draft RMP released today would protect none of this area. Instead, the RMP would open up almost all of it to oil and gas development and other uses that would diminish the wild character, wildlife habitat, and everything else that makes central Montana so special.