We’ve updated the web site Archives section with the final Whitefish Range Partnership Agreement documents. Included are the full, 57-page final agreement, as well as a handy two-page overview, consisting of a map and a summary of the agreement itself.
For those of you interested in the Whitefish Range Partnership Agreement, but who don’t wish to wade through an entire ring binders’ worth of material, a two page summary of the agreement is now available to view or download in PDF format.
We have hosted a copy of the agreement summary here: https://www.gravel.org/files/04.15.2014_WRP_summary_Final.pdf
For those of you who like to dig into source materials, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service maintains a web site with news, information and recovery status reports on gray wolves on the Northern Rockies. You’ll find it here: http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov.
The agency’s “Office of External Affairs” also maintains a page with links to wolf-related press releases, public notices, hearing transcripts, articles and studies at http://www.fws.gov/home/wolfrecovery/.
According to a recent press release, Montana FWP now has a plan in place for managing grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem if/when the bears are removed from the endangered species list . . .
As more than 700 grizzly bears begin to emerge from winter dens in southwestern Montana, state wildlife officials say a recently updated conservation plan shows Montana is well prepared to take over management of the federally threatened species.
The plan, approved by the Montana Fish & Wildlife Commission in February, was developed over the past year in conjunction with a programmatic environmental impact statement. The update addresses state management options once the Greater Yellowstone Area’s more than 700 grizzly bears are removed from the federal list of threatened species.
Further reading: The management plan is available online at fwp.mt.gov. Click “SW MT Grizzly Bear Management Plan.”
Over at the Missoulian, Rob Chaney posted more information about the delay in extending federal protections to wolverines . . .
Disputes over the science of wolverines has prompted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to take an extra six months of study before it decides whether to put the elusive carnivore on the endangered species list.
The agency already extended its public comment period once through Dec. 2, after receiving conflicting opinions on the reliability of available research earlier this year. Wolverines had been considered “warranted but precluded” from ESA protection until 2012, when FWS decided to make a more thorough review.
“During the six-month extension, we will be formally engaging with experts in the scientific community to further evaluate areas of scientific disagreement and uncertainty as they relate to the wolverine delisting,” the agency said in a written statement Tuesday. “We intend that any final action resulting from these proposals be based on the best scientific and commercial data available and be as accurate and as effective as possible.”
Note: The instructions in the article for retrieving information about the proposed rule to list wolverines under the Endangered Species Act have minor errors. The best approach seems to be to open the entire “docket folder” and browse the contents.
The grizzly bear delisting saga continues . . .
Grizzly bears in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem have a varied diet and are minimally affected by the decline in the number of whitebark pine trees, federal research found.
The findings were presented Thursday in Bozeman at a meeting of the Yellowstone Ecosystem Subcommittee of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee. The subcommittee voted 10-4 to accept the research findings. It also gave preliminary approval to a motion that recommends the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service remove federal protections for the bears, currently listed as “threatened.”
The USFWS delisted the bears in 2007, but a federal judge returned the protection two years later, saying the effect of the decline in whitebark pine trees on bears wasn’t given adequate consideration. Whitebark pine nuts are a key food source for grizzlies as they prepare for hibernation.
Research found that grizzly bears eat more than 200 types of food, 75 of them frequently. That means when one food source is low, as the whitebark pine is, they find another, said Frank van Manen, interagency study team leader.
Sen Max Baucus begins a serious push to gain passage of the North Fork Watershed Protection Act . . .
Two days after announcing his retirement and, in doing so, promising a full-court press to protect some of Montana’s most pristine places, U.S. Sen. Max Baucus testified before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to promote the North Fork Watershed Protection Act, a bill that would permanently protect the American side of the North Fork watershed from new energy development.
Baucus, a six-term Democrat, announced Tuesday he will not seek re-election in 2014, and vowed to serve out the final year and a half of his term focused on accomplishing legislative priorities that would protect Montana’s scenic gems, and “double down” on passage of the North Fork bill and designation of new wilderness along the Rocky Mountain Front.
The U.S. Forest Service has released its annual report for the Northern Region (Region1). It’s available online for viewing and downloading . . .
The U.S. Forest Service has published its Year in Review report for the Northern Region across northern Idaho, Montana and North Dakota and northwestern South Dakota in 2012.
The Northern Region, or Region 1 as the agency designates it, is comprised of 13 forests and grasslands, and manages more than 25 million acres of public lands that include wilderness areas, wild and scenic river corridors, plus many other recreational opportunities.
The report offers a recap of projects and efforts from the past year, including the historic fire season and the biomass research conducted by F.H. Stoltze Land and Lumber in Columbia Falls.
Direct link: USFS Region 1 Annual Report
Newly available in digital form . . .
“The North Fork: Living with Wildlife” is a joint NFLA/NFPA publication that outlines recommendations on how to live responsibly in wildlife habitat and suggests specific ways to minimize the chances of conflict with such animals as grizzly bears, black bears, mountain lions, wolves, coyotes, deer, elk and moose. This is an excellent brochure for new and current landowners alike. It also includes some wonderful illustrations by Diane Boyd.
This brochure is available at the NFLA web site or you can download it right here (PDF format). It also has a permanent home in our archives. Please feel free to reproduce and distribute as often as you like.
Here’s a partial table of contents:
- Completing the “Gentleman’s Agreement” in the Trans-boundary Flathead – John Frederick
- U.S.-Canadian “Gentleman’s Agreement” To Protect Montana River – from New West
- Exxon Megaloads and the North Fork – editorial by Paul Edwards
- NFPA Annual Meeting Features Bylaw Changes, Well-Known Speaker
- Don’t Feed the Bears; Do Feed the Web Site