Category Archives: Environmental Issues

Tester: Forest Service ‘found a loophole,’ ‘cut a deal’ on Holland Lake Lodge expansion

Holland Lake - USFS
Holland Lake – USFS

Senator Tester doesn’t have a clear understanding of categorical exclusions, but he sure knows an end-run when he sees it…

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester of Montana grilled the chief of the U.S. Forest Service this week about its initial decision — since reversed — to give an expansion plan at Holland Lake Lodge an exemption from a thorough environmental review.

Tester said Congress meant that type of exemption — called a “categorical exclusion” — to be used for projects that protect communities from wildfires.

At least he wouldn’t have supported it for “making some corporation rich off our public lands,” Tester said.

Continue reading . . .

The missing lynx of Glacier Park

A Canada lynx caught on remote camera in Glacier National Park on Sept. 17, 2020 - Glacier NP
A Canada lynx caught on remote camera in Glacier National Park on Sept. 17, 2020 – Glacier NP

The Flathead Beacon had a nice article on the Canada lynx population in Glacier Park. John Waller, of course, gets a significant mention . . .

As a wildlife biologist studying rare and elusive carnivores in Glacier National Park, John Waller has spent much of his career trying to gain a better understanding of species that are genetically adapted to avoid human detection. In other words, whether he’s stalking wolverines, tracking grizzly bears or hounding fishers, Waller has grown accustomed to getting skunked in the field.

And yet, due in large part to his patience and tenacity, Waller’s trailblazing work has produced some of the best population estimates about the hardest-to-track critters, including a project he engineered 15 years ago to produce the first DNA-based population study of wolverines in Glacier.

“Ever since I started working here, my approach has been to kind of fill in our knowledge gaps and try to determine what we know and what we don’t know,” Waller said. “Typically, the things we don’t know, we don’t know for a pretty good reason — because they involve a species that’s difficult and expensive to monitor.”

Continue reading . . .

Montana FWP opens public scoping on proposed new wolf management plan

Gray Wolf - Adam Messer-Montana FWP
Gray Wolf – Adam Messer, Montana FWP

From the official press release . . .

HELENA – Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks will prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) and conduct public scoping on a proposed action to develop a new wolf management plan.

The 2003 Montana Gray Wolf Conservation and Management Plan and associated EIS were developed 20 years ago. Since then, new, and improved research, management tools and methods have been developed and incorporated into Montana’s gray wolf management strategy; however, they are not described in the 2003 Wolf Plan. Gov. Greg Gianforte asked FWP to create a new wolf management plan with broad public engagement due to the interest in wolf management across the state.

The new wolf management plan will include the latest science surrounding wolf management, better transparency on wolf management, and be easier to update in the future. More specifically, the new wolf plan will accomplish the following:

  • Articulate contemporary updates in wolf-related research;
  • Describe new and available wolf management tools and methods employed by FWP;
  • Provide FWP with the flexibility needed to incorporate new wolf management science and tools, as they become available;
  • Describe the public engagement process as new information related to evolving wolf management strategies in Montana becomes available.

FWP invites comment identifying potential significant environmental issues associated with the proposed action of creating a new wolf plan and in determining the appropriate scope of the EIS. Public input received during the scoping period will help FWP staff determine public interest, identify potential issues that would require further analysis, and may provide further insights for creating the new wolf plan.

FWP will conduct two virtual public scoping meetings for this EIS; public input will also be taken during these meetings. The meetings will be held:

  • April 4 from 6-8 p.m.
  • April 11 from 6-8 p.m.

Login information will be posted on the FWP website before the meetings.

The deadline for scoping comments is April 22. These comments will be used to help shape the new plan and analysis. FWP will open public comment for the draft EIS and draft plan once they are completed.

Scoping comments can be emailed to or mailed to:

Attention: 2023 Montana Wolf Management Plan EIS
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
Wildlife Division
1420 East Sixth Avenue
Helena, MT 59620

For more information, visit

Montana FWP seeks public comment on draft grizzly bear management plan, EIS

From the official press release (also see “FWP unveils draft statewide grizzly plans more information” at the Missoulian for more background)  . . .

UPDATE (Dec 16, 3:30pm): Deadline for comments extended! See FWP extends comment period on draft grizzly bear management plan, draft EIS.

Grizzly Bear - Montana FWP
Grizzly Bear – Montana FWP

Dec 6, 2022 12:14 PM

HELENA – Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is seeking public comment on a draft plan and environmental impact statement to guide the long-term management and conservation of grizzly bears across the state.

“For decades, FWP staff have worked with federal, tribal, and local partners, along with communities and landowners, to recover and then manage grizzly bear populations across much of Montana,” said FWP Director Hank Worsech. “This plan will put that experience into action and provide a framework for comprehensive management of grizzly bears in the state and ensure the populations remain sustainable and healthy into the future.”

The plan was informed by existing bear plans and conservation strategies for parts of the state, the federal recovery plan and the work of the Grizzly Bear Advisory Council, appointed under the previous administration in 2019.

Continue reading Montana FWP seeks public comment on draft grizzly bear management plan, EIS

Inside the experimental world of animal infrastructure

A black bear emerges from a wildlife underpass installed on the Flathead Reservation
A black bear emerges from a wildlife underpass installed on the Flathead Reservation

MIT Technology Review has a very informative long-form article on “animal infrastructure,” the bridges, underpasses and other structures and techniques being developed to deal with conflicts between animals and human activity . . .

In the mid-2000s, toads were meeting a gruesome end near Ede, an old, leafy town in the middle of the Netherlands. Local residents came to the rescue. For a few weeks each spring, the town erected a set of temporary fences along a kilometer or so of road, in an area where the animals crossed over from their winter habitat in the south to three breeding ponds in the north. When the toads hit the barrier, they’d hop sideways for a few meters until they dropped into a bucket, one of 36 pitfall traps that lined the fence.

Every day, volunteers would diligently carry the toads to the other side and send them on their way. It was a crude, somewhat laborious way of mitigating the hardship of being an amphibian in a world built for humans. But it was a lifeline that Ede residents were happy to provide for their warty neighbors—which, like so many other species worldwide, have suffered difficulties feeding, breeding, and migrating as their familiar landscape is carved apart by human infrastructure.

What followed has taken on the air of a cautionary fable among a small international community of ecologists and ecological designers…

Continue reading . . .

Conservationist awarded for his work on the North Fork

Michael Jamison - Kate Heston, Daily Inter Lake
Michael Jamison – Kate Heston, Daily Inter Lake

Here’s a nice article in the Daily Inter Lake about Michael Jamison’s selection by the North Fork Preservation Association for the Glacier National Park Stewardship Award . . .

In Northwest Montana, everything circles back to Glacier National Park. Especially for Michael Jamison, a Whitefish-based conservationist.

Glacier National Park did not haphazardly come into being, Jamison says. It was a deliberate choice by people who spent years lobbying and pushing to preserve that land. To Jamison, that park is still a choice.

“America’s parks are about as close as nature gets to the sacred,” Jamison wrote in a 2015 article for National Parks Conservation Association. “It is our collective relationship with these places — the countless intimate and individual experiences that intersect and merge to forge powerful cultural connections — that must move us to act on their behalf.”

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Holland Lake expansion proposal puts spotlight on lodging in grizzly habitat

A grizzly bear tips a dead tree near Obsidian Creek in Yellowstone NP - Jim Peaco, NPS
A grizzly bear tips a dead tree near Obsidian Creek in Yellowstone NP – Jim Peaco, NPS

Here’s a very interesting report from the recent winter Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee NCDE subcommittee meeting regarding a debate, triggered by the recent application by POWDR to expand lodging at Holland Lake, over how to handle such issues when they affect core grizzly habitat. Even better, the meeting was chaired by Flathead Forest Supervisor Kurt Steele, who is currently juggling the Holland Lake hot potato.

…The disagreement over land management, specifically development of more overnight lodging, was laid bare in Missoula Friday morning at the winter meeting of the NCDE Subcommittee. That’s part of the national Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee, which coordinates the species’ recovery across six ecosystems in the West.

Tensions were high because of a recent proposal from Utah-based ski corporation POWDR to significantly expand Holland Lake Lodge in the Swan Valley, within the NCDE. The Flathead National Forest recently rejected the proposal. POWDR stated it plans to submit a new, similar proposal of the same size…

Continue reading . . .

Michael Jamison awarded for work furnishing permanent protections on the North Fork

Michael Jamison at Business of Outdoor Recreation Summit Fireside Chat and Film Festival, Dec 5, 2018 - Justin Franz, Flathead Beacon
Michael Jamison at Business of Outdoor Recreation Summit Fireside Chat and Film Festival, Dec 5, 2018 – Justin Franz, Flathead Beacon

Wow! The Flathead Beacon has a great article on Michael Jamison, centered around his selection by the North Fork Preservation Association as this year’s Glacier National Park Stewardship Award recipient.

Well done. Recommended reading!

In the eight years since helping broker a deal to pass historic federal legislation that permanently banned new energy development along the North Fork Flathead River, which forms the western boundary of Glacier National Park, Michael Jamison has continued to furnish protections to all corners of the Crown of the Continent.

…In those eight years, Jamison has received plenty of awards and accolades for his work, but the most recent feather in his cap marks his proudest recognition.

Earlier this month, the North Fork Preservation Association (NFPA) announced it had selected Jamison as this year’s Glacier National Park Stewardship Award recipient.

Read more . . .

Court order changes wolf hunting season, effective immediately

Gray Wolf - Adam Messer-Montana FWPOn Tuesday, a District Court in Lewis and Clark County issued a temporary restraining order impacting some of Montana’s wolf hunting and trapping regulations. The changes go into effect immediately. The order restores the 2020 wolf quotas for several units, including the old two-wolf limit for WMU 110, which covers the North Fork. It also restricts “hunters and trappers to harvesting five wolves total per person, per season” and prohibits the use of snares. There’s a hearing scheduled for November 28 on this order.

Read more in the official press release . . .

Background information: Lawsuit asks for halt to Montana wolf hunt (Helena IR)

Two Kreck/Fields Scholarship Winners Announced for 2022

The NFPA Awards Committee found  the applicant pool for this year’s Kreck/Fields Scholarship so strong they decided to award two scholarships . . .

Jacob Bretz

Jacob Bretz

Jacob Bretz is a Masters Student at University  of Montana in the field of Environmental Philosophy. Jacob says “ The environmental problem is the existential issue of our time.”

Najifa Farhat

Najifa Farhat

Najifa Farhat is a Masters student at the University of Montana in Journalism, Environmental Science and Natural Resources. Najifa, a professional journalist reporting on environmental issues in Bangladesh prior to coming to Montana told us “my passion for writing and advocacy of issues related to nature, earth and the environment brought me into this profession.”