Category Archives: Environmental Issues

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

Record grizzly roadkill

A grizzly bear female and two of its cubs died in a car collision on July 27 about three miles south of Ronan, Montana - CSKT Wildlife Dept
A grizzly bear female and two of its cubs died in a car collision on July 27 about three miles south of Ronan, Montana – CSKT Wildlife Dept

This well-researched article by Rob Chaney of the Missoulian uses bear roadkill along US93 as a starting point to make a broader examination of grizzly mortality . . .

The dictionary defines “mortality” as both death and loss. For grizzly bears along the Northern Continental Divide, both definitions came into play last month when the ecosystem recorded five grizzly mortalities, although only four bears died. And because two of the deaths were adult females of breeding age, the loss could have longer term consequences.

On July 24, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks workers found a dead sow grizzly near the southern end of Hungry Horse Reservoir in the Spotted Bear Ranger District. The 16-year-old female had a radio collar that was sending out a mortality signal, indicating it had stopped moving. The carcass was too decomposed to immediately reveal the cause of death.

Three days later, the driver of a car on Highway 93 ran into a sow grizzly and two of her cubs about three miles south of Ronan. The bear family apparently came out of the barrow pit and tried to cross the highway together about 11 p.m. All three bears died at the scene. The driver and one passenger were injured and the car had to be towed away.

Read more . . .

Gianforte says he will meet with conservation groups about WSAs

Kent Peak in the Sapphire Wilderness Study Area - photo by Sally Carlson
Kent Peak in the Sapphire Wilderness Study Area – photo by Sally Carlson

Note from NFPA President:

Despite what the article below says, neither NFPA nor any other Montana conservation group that I am in contact with has been contacted by Gianforte to set up a meeting to talk about WSAs. In fact, many of our fellow conservation groups are being attacked for our strong stands on this issue. This shows how effective the conservation community has been in influencing public opinion on this issue. According to a recent poll conducted by a partnership of Democratic and Republican pollsters, 87% of Montanans say conservation issues are important considerations in their voting decisions. We will keep up the good work!

Furthermore, we must change the language in this debate from “unlocking” or “releasing” WSAs to “removing protection from” WSAs or “losing” these potential wilderness areas forever. Please call Gianforte’s office at 202/225-3211 to express opposition to H.R. 5148 and H.R. 5149.

Republican Congressman Greg Gianforte said Thursday he’ll personally meet with people across Montana — including conservationists — who want a say in the controversial issue about unlocking federal Wilderness Study Areas for multiple uses such as motorized recreation, mining or logging.

“We’ll be meeting more broadly with all the concerned parties,” Gianforte told the Chronicle’s editorial board. “Because we got to hear everybody.”

Gianforte has been criticized by some environmental groups for not taking their input on the issue. The congressman said that’s what he’ll be doing throughout August.

Read more . . .

Hecla Mining, in legal fight over Montana “bad actor” ruling, halts cleanup work at Troy mine

Hecla Mining, the company trying to get approval for two mines on the edge of the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness, is playing hard ball with the State of Montana over its CEO’s “bad actor” rating . . .

An Idaho mining company is halting reclamation work at a closed silver and copper mine in northwest Montana amid a legal fight with state regulators over cleanup expenses at other sites.

Hecla Mining Co. manager Doug Stiles said Tuesday the cleanup of the Troy Mine west of Libby has been suspended indefinitely.

Stiles says the company is evaluating potential legal risks of continuing work at the site after the Montana Department of Environmental Quality sued Hecla CEO Phillips S. Baker Jr. last month.

Read more . . .

Mine on edge of Cabinet Wilderness inches closer to USFS approval

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

Hecla Mining inches closer to Forest Service approval of their proposed Rock Creek Mine on the edge of the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness.

Meanwhile, Montana has a bone to pick with Hecla CEO Phillips Baker Jr. over past shenanigans in the state . . .

Federal officials proposed approval of the first phase of a silver and copper mine beneath a northwestern Montana wilderness area amid a legal fight between state officials and the company behind the project, officials said Wednesday.

A final decision is expected in coming weeks on the Rock Creek Mine near Noxon after the Kootenai National Forest released a lengthy environmental study of the proposal, forest spokesman Willie Sykes said

Idaho-based Hecla Mining Co. would initially mine on 20 acres, to determine the feasibility of a full-scale mine that would cover almost 500 acres.

Read more . . .

Conservationist draws Wyoming grizzly bear tag

 

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

As mentioned several days ago, a number of conservationists put in for Wyoming grizzly bear hunting tags, with no intention of hunting a griz using anything more lethal than a camera. The effort has paid off in at least one case so far . . .

A famous and fiery critic of grizzly bear hunting who’s made a career photographing the big bruins will have a chance to partake in Wyoming’s first hunt for the species in 44 years.

That person is Images of Nature wildlife photographer Tom Mangelsen, who beat very long odds, drawing No. 8 on an issuance list that will allow up to 10 grizzly hunters into the field starting Sept. 15. Mangelsen learned of the results Thursday morning, when he took a call from his friend and assistant Sue Cedarholm.

“When Sue told me that I got No. 8, I about fell off my chair,” he said. “I just thought, ‘How can that be possible?’”

Read more . . .

Cameron Naficy to speak at Waterton-Glacier Science and History Day, July 24

Waterton Lake
Waterton Lake

Long-time NFPA member Cameron Naficy will be speaking at Waterton-Glacier Science and History Day in Waterton Townsite on July 24, 2018. Here’s the post from the Landscapes in Motion website . . .

15th Annual Waterton-Glacier Science and History Day
Where: Falls Theatre, Waterton Townsite, Waterton Lakes National Park
When: Tuesday, July 24, 2018 — 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Cost: Free with park entry fee and open to all

Cameron’s Talk: A multi-century, transboundary perspective on the fire ecology of the Crown of the Continent
9:45-10:15 a.m.

Cameron will present a talk about the fire ecology of the distinct forest systems on opposite sides of the Continental Divide. He will discuss how forest resilience has changed in the face of increased fire activity driven by climate change, and will present a unique view of how these ecosystems are responding to recent large fires. This is a chance to meet Cameron and learn more about the big picture of fire ecology in a changing world.

For more information about the Waterton-Glacier Science and History Day, visit https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/ab/waterton/activ/evenements-events/journee-science-day

Poll indicates strong support for public land protections

Badger-Two Medicine Region
Badger-Two Medicine Region

The University of Montana ran a bi-partisan poll back in June that indicated very strong support for protecting public lands, including the Badger-Two Medicine region . . .

A University of Montana poll done last month found there’s strong support for national monument status for the Badger Two Medicine region near Glacier National Park.

The Badger-Two Medicine is a 130,000-acre wildland south of Marias Pass on the Lewis and Clark National Forest. It is known for its elk herd and is prime grizzly bear habitat. The Blackfeet Tribe consider the ground sacred.

It’s also been embroiled in controversy for decades, as oil and gas companies have sought to drill for oil and gas there. Currently, there’s a lawsuit in federal court over the matter, as the Obama Administration canceled all the existing leases in the area during the waning days of the administration, paying off the companies in the process.

The UM poll found that 76 percent of voters supported a national monument designation for the Badger-Two Med.

Read more . . .

Interior proposes reworking of Endangered Species Act

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

Here’s an excellent article by Rob Chaney of the Missoulian concerning the Interior Department’s proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act. . . .

Proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act would give federal agencies much more leeway to shrink critical habitat and modify protection rules for vulnerable animals and plants.

Interior and Commerce department officials unveiled the proposals in a Thursday morning conference call with reporters. The regulation changes must go through a public comment process and could become policy by the end of 2018. Coincidentally, another set of ESA changes has been drafted into proposed legislation before Congress.

Both moves come as a new national survey shows strong support for the Endangered Species Act among four out of five Americans.

Read more . . .

Also read: Interior Department Proposes a Vast Reworking of the Endangered Species Act (NY Times)