For immediate release
Feb. 14, 2018
Public Support for Protecting Flathead’s Wildlife Loud and Clear
Thousands urge U.S. Forest Service to keep promise to protect wildlife on
Flathead National Forest
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
MISSOULA, MONT. – WildEarth Guardians, Western Watersheds Project, Sierra Club, and more than 4,000 American citizens, are calling on the Forest Service to amend its misguided revised forest plan for the Flathead National Forest and habitat management direction for the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE) grizzly bear population. February 12 marked the deadline for public objection to the plans. The new forest plan will become the blueprint for managing the Flathead during the next 10-15 years.
The Flathead National Forest covers 2.4 million acres of public lands west and south of Glacier National Park in Montana. A haven of rugged mountain peaks, rich, thick forests, and cool, clean mountain streams, it’s home to imperiled grizzly bears, Canada lynx, wolverine, and bull trout. The new grizzly bear habitat direction will apply to 5.1 million acres of public lands across five forests in the NCDE.
“In an era where Trump is seeking to take the public out of public lands, the objection process is the Forest Service’s chance to heed public concerns,” said Marla Fox. “Public lands like the Flathead National Forest belong to all Americans, and public support for protecting imperiled wildlife on the Flathead is loud and clear. Now it’s time for the Forest Service to listen and revise the plan.”
“The Flathead forest plan is just the latest example of the Forest Service and this administration’s attack on science-based management of our public lands,” said Josh Osher, Montana Director for Western Watersheds Project. “This plan blatantly ignores the basic survival needs of some of our nation’s most imperiled wildlife populations, particularly grizzly bears.”
In past versions of the forest plan, the Forest Service promised to preserve grizzly bear habitat by returning 500 miles of crumbling forest roads to the wild. But the agency is reneging on this promise and putting the Flathead’s wildlife at the mercy of motorized users. The revised plan ignores best available science showing very real, harmful impacts from motorized use to imperiled wildlife. And it lacks future vision—there is no direction for maintaining an affordable and environmentally sustainable future road system.
“The Flathead forest plan and grizzly bear amendment, as currently written, do not adequately protect grizzly bears. These plans must be strengthened to ensure long-term recovery of grizzly bears and connectivity between bears in the Northern Continental Divide and those to the west and south,” said Bonnie Rice, Senior Representative for Sierra Club in the Northern Rockies.
 Compare Flathead Forest Plan Final Environmental Impact Statement, page 529 (to fulfill Amendment 19 numeric objectives for motorized access, an additional 518 miles of roads would need to be reclaimed) with id. at 476 (requiring “no net increase” in open roads above 2011 levels).