Dave Hadden of Headwaters Montana reports that Dr. John Weaver, senior scientist at the Wildlife Conservation Society, released a significant report covering the wildlands in the Crown of the Continent Ecosystem in Montana. Here’s the meat of the Headwaters Montana announcement . . .
Dr. John Weaver recently published his newest Wildlife Conservation Society monograph titled, Conservation Value of Roadless Areas for Vulnerable Fish and Wildlife Species in the Crown of the Continent Ecosystem, Montana (PDF, 24.8MB). This work goes a significant distance towards actually measuring the benefits of protecting roadless lands for the long-term survival of fish and wildlife.
The report attempts to answer the question: “What is the conservation value of these roadless areas for vulnerable fish and wildlife that are important to Montanans and others?”
The report undertakes a mapped (or spatial) analysis of two fish (bull and westslope cutthroat trout) and four mammals (grizzly, wolverine, mountain goat, and bighorn sheep) species for the entire Crown of the Continent ecosystem.
Dr. Weaver lists the key threats to these vulnerable species as “habitat loss and fragmentation, invasive species, and climate warming.”
The science of conservation has evolved greatly over the years. Species conservation now emphasizes large landscapes rather than site-specific assessment. Species need to be able to move and adjust to changes; they need “resiliency”.
Dr. Weaver uses his mapping process to score roadless lands as “Moderately Important”, “Important”, or “Very Important” to conservation of the selected species. He then recommends specific designations for the further protection of roadless land habitat as “Wilderness”, “Backcountry”, or “Wildland Restoration”.
The entire working paper is available for download in PDF format. Those of you who don’t want to wade through the whole thing can find the section on the North Fork Flathead River Basin and Ten Lakes Area on pages 116-129.
For the official announcement of the report’s release and some additional background see “Where Will Grizzly Bears Roam?” on the Wildlife Conservation Society’s website.