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ALERT: Grizzly Bear Habitat Amendments to Greater Yellowstone Area National Forests

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SAWS Action Alert

Comments on Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) deadline: November 12, 2004

We just found out about this plan.  Here is a link to the website in case you want more information:  Pay particular attention to the maps and what areas they cover.

http://www.fs.fed.us/r1/wildlife/igbc/Subcommittee/yes/YEamend/gb_internet.htm

Send comments to:

R2 Grizzly Bear FP Amendments
c/o USFS Content Analysis Team
P O Box 22810
Salt Lake City, UT 84122-2810

FAX comments may be sent to 801.517.1021
Email comments may be sent to r2grizzly@fs.fed.us

There are six forests involved with this plan: Caribou-Targhee, Beaverhead-Deerlodge, Gallatin, Custer, Shoshone, and Bridger-Teton National Forests in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.  This region directly affects Togwotee, Cooke City, West Yellowstone, and Island Park to name a few famous riding areas.  Alternatives 3 & 4 appear to close all these areas to snowmobiling.

Basically the plan is to conserve and if necessary expand the habitat area of the Grizzly Bear in the Greater Yellowstone Area.  It will do so by amending the forest plans of the six forests mentioned above to provide direction for habitat management if the Grizzly Bear is delisted from the Endangered Species Act.  The legality of this measure is being appealed by Montanans for Multiple Use over a similar plan in the Kootenai, Lolo, and Idaho Panhandle National Forests.

Alternative 3 closes 800,000 acres to snowmobiling, and alternative 4 closes 2.4 million acres.

Nowhere does the plan mention the opening of any riding area should closures become necessary.

Points for Alternative 1:

  • No action, maintain the status quo.
  • Current forest plans would continue to guide the management of grizzly bear habitat. 
  • The forest plans are in response to the requirements needed for recovery.
  • Over-the-snow use would continue to be monitored and mitigated around known denning sites.
  • The Targhee NF would restrict over-the-snow use to resolve specific conflicts with bears.

Points for Alternative 2:

  • This option is the proposed action and preferred alternative.
  • Not net loss of riding area.
  • Provides additional direction in the form of habitat standards and guidelines for management
  • Habitat will be maintained at or above 1998 levels.
  • It takes into account that the bears' existence is important and therefore provides adequate protection for them.
  • Motorized access routes, including snowmobile trails, do not count as secured habitat(Secure habitat is more than 500 meters from an open or gated motorized access route or recurring helicopter flight line.)
  • Project activities between Dec. 1 and Feb. 28 do not count against secure habitat. (A Project is construction of new road or reconstruction of an existing restricted road, or recurring helicopter flights at low elevations.)
  • Localized area restrictions would be used to address conflicts with winter use activities, where conflicts occur during denning or after bear emergence in the spring.

Negative Points for Alternative 3:

  • Approximately 800,000 acres of over-the-snow motorized access would be eliminated in denning areas November 1 through April 30. 
  • This alternative is in response to comments calling on the forest service to provide more restrictive habitat protection for the grizzly bear inside the Primary Conservation Area.

Negative Points for Alternative 4:

  • Approximately 2.4 million acres of over-the-snow motorized access would be eliminated in denning areas November 1 through April 30.
  • This alternative is in response to comments to extend grizzly bear habitat protection beyond the Primary Conservation Area.

Please write to the Forest Service, voicing your concerns about losing access to public lands. Urge them to adopt Alternative 2 with the wording “This would include limits on expanding current activities and on new activities like campgrounds and roads.  These standards would apply in the ""Primary Conservation Area"" (PCA), which is the same as the current recovery zone, the 3.5 million-acre core area considered the area necessary for maintaining the ""recovered"" grizzly bear population." removed from the DEIS; and with the wording “When motorized over-the-snow access is to be closed, other areas of equal acreage within the PCA be opened to motorized over-the-snow access” to be added to the DEIS.

 It is quite obvious that alternatives 3 and 4 are in response to radical environmental groups such as the "Wildlands Project", "Natural Resources Defense Council" and the "Blue Earth Alliance" promoting their "Yellowstone to Yukon" project, all wishing to further restrict access to our public lands.  This time they are using the Endangered Species Act and the magnificent Grizzly Bear as leverage for their agenda.  SAWS finds this and other plans like it very troubling.  In this case the grizzly bear appears ready to recover under current habitat conditions, so why do they need to continue to create more habitat?

If you want to see who is also writing comments, click this Google Search.

Thank you all for your interest and continued effort to keep our public land open for everyone.

Scott
Snowmobile Alliance of Western States

Copyright © 2004 Snowmobile Alliance of Western States. All Rights Reserved.

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If you are not a member of these organizations, please consider joining them:

Idaho State Snowmobile Association
http://www.idahosnowbiz.com/

Blue Ribbon Coalition
http://www.sharetrails.org/

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