Tag Archives: roadless lands

Roads-only map shows little whitespace

Montana Public Roads
Montana Public Roads

Now, here’s a graphic illustration of the importance of wildlife corridors. Impressive . . .

Step off Montana Highway 200 at Rogers Pass, hop on the back of a wolverine, and you would cross pavement just three times before reaching Banff, Alberta.

Two of those roads, U.S. Highway 2 and Going-to-the-Sun Road, cross the otherwise blank spot on an unusual map that’s been floating around the Internet recently. The map, assembled by Reddit user WestCoastBestCoast94, displays virtually all the nation’s roads – and nothing else. The resulting black-and-white representation of the Lower 48 tends to get one common response:


The United States has about 4 million miles of public roads. According to federal highway statistics, 97 percent of the continental U.S. is less than three miles away from a road. Eighty-three percent lies within half a mile. A recent analysis prepared by the Western Transportation Institute at Montana State University looked at the unroaded areas of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming – three states with the least population density short of Alaska – and found that 16 percent of their combined territory qualified as essentially roadless. The study included national parks, which do have some roads.

Read more . . .

Frank Vitale: Badger-Two Medicine under threat

Hello NFPA members:

At our August Board meeting I said I would keep the membership informed about the current status and events of the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act as they unfold, and the issues facing the Badger-Two Medicine Roadless Area.

At my request, I asked Bill Walker to post the most current news reports from the Great Falls Tribune, Missoulian, Daily Interlake and the Hungry Horse News. Thanks, Bill. It’s my hope that NFPA members read these articles and become engaged.

The Hungry Horse News, in its Oct. 9, 2013 issue, has a very good article written by Chris Peterson on the pending legal battle over an oil and gas lease within the Badger-Two Medicine. (Bill posted this on the website.)

Various groups are intervening on behalf of the Lewis & Clark NF to help protect the Badger-Two Medicine, which is on the northern portion of the Rocky Mountain Front just south of Glacier NP. The article briefly explains the history of the area and its importance as a vital linkage between Glacier and the Bob Marshall Wilderness complex. One hundred thirty thousand acres of inventoried roadless land is nothing to ignore. A person can travel through the Badger-Two Medicine and the Bob Marshall Wilderness complex approximately 140 miles without crossing a single road. The Badger-Two Medicine was included in the 1980s statewide wilderness bill, but vetoed by then President Ronald Reagan at the request of Senator Conrad Burns (R-Montana).

Many of the folks that have requested intervener status have helped out in our North Fork efforts, and I feel it’s time for us to help out our neighbors. Letters need to be written to the delegation (see contact info below) with copies sent to the Lewis and Clark National Forest in support of protecting the Badger-Two Medicine, and the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act as a whole.

As I stated before, things are unfolding fast and this will probably be one of the largest and most important conservation issues facing the Crown of the Continent. And, as a side note – One of the oil and gas companies that is holding out on a buyout just happens to be holding out its lease in the North Fork as well.

The Badger Two Medicine and the North Fork of the Flathead have more in common than you might think. Both adjoin Glacier NP and both are vital wildlife areas connecting linkages east & west, and north & south. Protecting the Badger-Two Medicine is good for the North Fork.

For additional information on the Badger-Two Medicine area, the Glacier-Two Medicine Alliance and its long-time North Fork connection, go to: http://www.conservemontana.org/content/glacier-two-medicine-alliance/cnmF68CE668434B66836.

Please send letters to protect the Badger-Two Medicine and support the Rocky Mountain Heritage Act:

Senator Jon Tester – www.tester.senate.gov
706 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-2604
Phone: (202) 224-2644

Senator Max Baucus – www.baucus.senate.gov
511 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
(202) 224-2651

Congressman Steve Daines – www.daines.house.gov
206 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-3211

Supervisor’s Office
Lewis and Clark National Forest – www.fs.usda.gov/contactus/lcnf
PO Box 869
Great Falls, MT  59403



Weekend wrapup: Lake trout, wolverines and roadless area squabbles

Here are a few nuggets kicked up over the past few days . . .

Proposal to release roadless, wilderness study areas gains backers, opponents

A proposed bill to release federal roadless and wilderness study areas to local management and development is gathering lengthy lists of supporters and opponents, even though it’s stalled in Congress . . .

Flathead Lake biological station examines netting, cascading effects

How would Flathead Lake’s complex food web and ecology change if an aggressive netting project started removing 140,000 lake trout every year?

That is considered an important question that has yet to be answered, but it is a subject being addressed in a study being conducted for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes as part of an environmental review for a proposed lake trout netting project on the lake . . .

Wolverine spotted at Whitefish ski resort

A handful of skiers had the rare opportunity to see a wolverine Monday on the front side of Big Mountain.

The sightings later were confirmed by tracks and scat found around a deer carcass . . .


Wildlife Conservation Society publishes roadless lands assessment for Montana’s Crown of the Continent region

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.

Biologist tells Glacier employees that 1.3 million acres of roadless lands vulnerable

From the Missoulian . . .

Despite a legacy of conservation in the Crown of the Continent ecosystem, a biologist told Glacier National Park employees Tuesday that 1.3 million acres of roadless public lands remain vulnerable, and with them a suite of fish and wildlife species…

Although the core of the ecosystem is protected by the Bob Marshall, Scapegoat and Great Bear wildernesses – as well as the first-ever Tribal Wilderness in the Mission Mountains – 1.33 million acres of roadless area “is still up for grabs,” Weaver said…

…he stressed the importance of habitat connectivity along the periphery of conservation lands in the Crown of the Continent Ecosystem, and in particular on the Rocky Mountain Front, along the North and Middle Forks of the Flathead River, and in the Swan Range.

Continue reading . . .