Category Archives: Environmental Issues

Alert: Public meeting to address post-delisting grizzly management in Kalispell, Sep 27

Sow grizzly bear spotted near Camas in northwestern Montana. - Montana FWPAssuming grizzly bears are delisted in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE, essentially Northwest Montana), Montana would take over management of the bears. The Montana department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks is holding a series of meetings to discuss management objectives, including one in Kalispell at 6:30pm on September 27 at the Flathead Valley Community College, Arts and Technology Building, 777 Grandview Drive . . .

Public meetings on how the state will deal with the growing number of grizzly bears around Glacier National Park if they’re removed from the endangered species list begin this week…

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) spokesman Dillon Tabish says the meetings are not meant to address the question of whether or not to delist the bear, and are not related to a separate population of grizzlies around Yellowstone National Park, whose federal protections are currently tangled up in federal court.

“Are we comfortable with a minimum of 800 grizzly bears on the landscape? Is that too many? Is that not enough? We really, genuinely want to hear Montanans’ input on that question and that question alone.”

The meetings will feature presentations on the grizzly population by state biologists and the opportunity for Montanans to voice their opinion on the rule.

Read more . . .

RELATED: US Judge Delays Grizzly Bear Hunts in Rockies 2 More Weeks (Flathead Beacon)

Grizzly delisting faces faces many challenges

Sow grizzly bear spotted near Camas in northwestern Montana. - Montana FWP
Sow grizzly bear spotted near Camas in northwestern Montana. – Montana FWP

The current court challenge to the Wyoming and Idaho grizzly hunt is only the tip of the iceberg . . .

While most stories about last week’s grizzly bear court hearing trumpeted the last-minute suspension of trophy hunts in Wyoming and Idaho, the lawsuit had nothing to do with the legality of grizzly hunting.

And while it did focus on whether grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem still need federal protection, the eventual decision will affect a far larger landscape. That points up a conundrum of the Endangered Species Act: It’s one challenge to recover a species, but quite another to delist it.

U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen didn’t render a decision from the bench on Thursday as many expected he might. But he did grant a 14-day restraining order blocking Wyoming and Idaho from starting their grizzly hunts on Saturday.

Read more . . .

See also…
Federal judge orders two-week delay in grizzly hunts (Missoulian)
Grizzlies Have Recovered, Officials Say; Now Montanans Have To Get Along With Them (NPR)

BREAKING: Judge suspends Wyoming, Idaho grizzly hunts

Grizzly bear sow with three cubs - NPS photo
Grizzly bear sow with three cubs – NPS photo

In response to oral arguments by a coalition of wildlife advocates, U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen just granted a 14-day temporary restraining order suspending grizzly bear hunts in Wyoming and Idaho while decides whether the federal government should reinstate federal protections for the bears.

Recommended reading for more background . . .

Groups Seek Temporary Restraining Order to Stop Grizzly Hunt (Sierra Club)
Wildlife Groups Press Judge to Nix Grizzly Hunts in Rockies (Flathead Beacon)

Comment submitted to the Department of Interior regarding proposed changes to Endangered Species Act rule-making

On August 25, 2018, the NFPA submitted the following statement to the Department of Interior during the comment period on their proposed changes to Endangered Species Act rule-making.

ESA
Docket No. FWS-HQ-ES-2018-0007

On behalf of the Board of Directors for the North Fork Preservation Association, we stand for a strong Endangered Species Act.

We believe that it is important to keep the “blanket 4(d) rule” in place, that automatically grants all species listed as Threatened protection from harm, harassment, injury and death.

If the current proposal moves forward, already vulnerable species would only be protected if and when your agency decides to undertake a specific rulemaking process. Not only would this increase the rulemaking workload for your agency, but Threatened species would be left waiting for protection that may never happen.

We believe that a strong Endangered Species Act is in the best interest of humans and wildlife. While some exploitative industries would benefit from this change because they could continue to disregard threatened species, this change is not in the interest of the rest of us.

The Endangered Species Act is one of the most cherished pieces of legislation in our country’s history and should not be weakened. Please keep this vital rule to protect our Threatened species in place.

Sincerely,

Debo Powers, President
North Fork Preservation Association
Polebridge, Montana

More fires expected, Naficy says

Granite Fire evening of Aug 26, 2015
Granite Fire evening of Aug 26, 2015

NFPA member Cameron Naficy’s  fire research got some ink in the Hungry Horse News . . .

Following a 2017 fire season that saw significant burning in Glacier and Waterton parks, with Kenow and Sprague wildfires, scientists and researchers have been hard at work determining what the fires mean for both parks as another fire season starts cooking.

Fire ecology was the subject of a presentation by the University of Columbia’s Cameron Naficy recently at Science and History Day in Waterton. According to Naficy, recent wildfire studies have changed the scientific community’s understanding of how fire affects the Glacier and Waterton region.

“The crown of the continent ecosystem has higher fire resiliency than we were expecting,” he said. “What we have found is that, historically in this area, a high-severity fire regime will transition into a mixed-severity fire regime.”

Read more . . .

Fish and Wildlife Commission advances proposed grizzly bear population objectives for public comment

Grizzly Sow with Two Cubs - Wikipedia en:User Traveler100
Grizzly Sow with Two Cubs – – Wikipedia en:User Traveler100

From the official press release (see also Grizzly rule-making process goes to public) . . .

Public hearings scheduled in Kalispell, Missoula, Great Falls, Conrad

The Fish and Wildlife Commission has approved language for a proposed administrative rule that would codify population objectives for grizzly bears in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE).

The decision on August 9, 2018 sets into motion a public comment period that will run from Aug. 24 through Oct. 26. Public hearings will be held in Kalispell, Missoula, Great Falls, and Conrad. Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks staff will explain and answer questions about the proposed population objectives at the hearings and take public comment.

The population objective is for NCDE, which is one of six designated recovery areas for grizzly bears in the lower-48 states. Grizzly bears in the NCDE are currently listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, although they have met their recovery criteria and may be proposed for delisting in the future.

The NCDE subcommittee of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) released a revised conservation strategy for grizzly bears (found here) earlier this summer. This document summarizes the commitments and coordinated efforts made by the state, tribal and federal agencies to manage and monitor the grizzly bear population and its habitat upon delisting.

Continue reading Fish and Wildlife Commission advances proposed grizzly bear population objectives for public comment

Montana to keep 1000 grizzlies after delisting

Montana NCDE Bear Management Units
Montana NCDE Bear Management Units

Here’s a pretty good summary of Montana’s proposed management plan for grizzly bears in the northwest section of the state . . .

Wildlife officials endorsed a plan Thursday to keep northwestern Montana’s grizzly population at roughly 1,000 bears as the state seeks to bolster its case that lifting federal protections will not lead to the bruins’ demise.

The proposal adopted on a preliminary vote by Fish, Wildlife and Parks commissioners sets a target of at least 800 grizzlies across a 16,000-square mile (42,000-square kilometer) expanse just south of the U.S.-Canada border.

However, officials pledged to manage for a higher number, about 1,000 bears, to give the population a protective buffer, said Dillon Tabish with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

Read more . . .

The ‘bad actor’ law and common sense

Southern Cabinet Mountains, as seen from Swede Mountain, near Libby
Southern Cabinet Mountains, as seen from Swede Mountain, near Libby

Hecla Mining wants to dig a couple of mines along the edge of the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness. Montana wants reimbursed for cleaning up an old mess first. This excellent Flathead Beacon op-ed by Jim Nash lays out the situation very clearly . . .

When Webb Scott Brown of the Chamber of Commerce attacks Montana’s enforcement of a state law that protects taxpayers from shouldering the cleanup bill for mining companies, it’s clearly time to impose an old-fashioned smell test. In weaving together his argument, he got many of his facts wrong.

I live in the community where Phillips Baker’s company proposes to mine. And as the retired owner of a sawmill and wood products company I know the challenges of creating jobs and making a livelihood in rural Montana. I also understand the obligations businesses and their leaders must take on when they seek the privilege of developing our state’s natural resources.

From my perspective, the bad actor law is common sense. It simply says that mining companies and their top executives don’t get another shot at our state’s natural resources if they walked out on their cleanup obligations in the past — unless they’re prepared to pay back the state for cleanup work the public had to do in the company’s place.

Read more . . .

Montana FWP to set grizzly population targets

Grizzly bear near Trail Creek in North Fork Flathead region, Montana. April 11, 2017 - by Diane Boyd
Grizzly bear near Trail Creek in North Fork Flathead region, Montana. April 11, 2017 – by Diane Boyd

Here’s a good overview, with useful links,  of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Park’s proposed grizzly bear conservation strategy . . .

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is taking the next step toward delisting grizzly bears in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem by formalizing how the agency will manage the population.

On Thursday, the FWP Commission will decide whether to give initial approval to a new administrative rule that would set state grizzly population objectives for the 16,000-square-mile area, which includes Glacier National Park and the Bob Marshall Wilderness complex. If approved, the rule would go out for public comment, then final approval in December.

In mid-June, the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee released a conservation strategy for the northern population, which depends on cooperation between federal, state and tribal entities. However, the executive committee delayed its decision to endorse the 326-page document until members had a chance to review it. A vote is expected by the end of summer, and an initial delisting proposal is expected sometime this fall.

Read more . . .

FWP proposes rule outlining grizzly bear population objectives in NCDE

Grizzly Bear Sow and cubs - NPS photo, Tim Rains
Grizzly Bear Sow and cubs – NPS photo, Tim Rains

Here’s the official Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks press release announcing their proposed “administrative rule” for managing grizzly bears in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem . . .

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is proposing an administrative rule to codify the population objectives detailed in the conservation strategy for grizzly bears in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem.

The Fish and Wildlife Commission will vote on the proposed rule during their Aug. 9 meeting. If the proposed rule is approved by the commission, it will move into a public comment period by late August and ultimately go back to the commission for final approval in December.

“By proposing this administrative rule, we are committing to keeping a viable and healthy population of grizzly bears in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem,” said FWP director Martha Williams. “It’s an important step toward federal delisting of the bears, as well as an important piece for the future of grizzly bear conservation and management in Montana.”

Continue reading FWP proposes rule outlining grizzly bear population objectives in NCDE