The long squabble over the Roadless Rule is not dead, but it’s wounded . . .
The lack of a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court means Alaska must follow the U.S. Forest Service Roadless Rule in its timber harvest, nearly ending 16 years of legal challenges to management of undeveloped forest.
The high court opted not to hear the Alaska state government’s appeal of a U.S. 9th Circuit Court decision upholding the 2001 Roadless Rule. While the decision applies only to Alaska’s attempts to manage federal timberland, the rule affects all Forest Service land in the United States. Montana has the third-largest inventoried roadless area in the nation, after Alaska and Idaho.
“The Roadless Rule was developed because of concern that if you didn’t look at these lands from a national perspective, you might gradually lose the ecological services these areas provide,” said Brian Riggers of the Forest Service’s Region 1 headquarters in Missoula. “Projects developed at a local level may not identify the importance of big pieces of land without looking at it from a national perspective for things like watershed quality, wildlife habitat or ecosystem health. Also, we had a road maintenance backlog, and no money to maintain the roads we had.”
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President Obama wants to expand the area of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge currently designated as wilderness . . .
President Barack Obama is proposing to designate the vast majority of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as a wilderness area, including its potentially oil-rich coastal plain, drawing an angry response from top state elected officials who see it as a land grab by the federal government…
The designation would set aside an additional nearly 12.3 million acres as wilderness, including the coastal plain near Alaska’s northeast corner, giving it the highest degree of federal protection available to public lands. More than 7 million acres of the refuge currently are managed as wilderness.
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Today’s news has information on drops in the wolf population in two areas of the U.S. Both declines are attributed to hunting pressures . . .
Northern Rockies See Sharp Drop in Wolves – Aggressive gray wolf hunting and trapping took a toll in much of the Northern Rockies last year as the predator’s population saw its most significant decline since being reintroduced to the region two decades ago. Yet state and federal wildlife officials said Friday that the population remains healthy overall, despite worries among some wildlife advocates over high harvest rates. Its range is even expanding in some areas as packs take hold in new portions of eastern Washington state and Oregon. Continue reading . . .
Number of wolves in Alaska’s Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve drops by more than 50 percent – Wolves in Alaska are known to have healthy population numbers. Yet now, it turns out that Alaska’s predator control program has resulted in the number of wolves in Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve to drop by more than half. The National Park service counted 80 wolves over nine packs in November 2012. This spring, though, the numbers have dropped drastically. Biologists have only been able to account for 28 to 39 wolves in six different packs–it’s the highest drop in numbers since the park service began tracking wolves 19 years ago. Continue reading . . .