MTPR

Nick Mott

Nick Mott is a reporter who also works as producer at Threshold, a podcast and radio show. He holds an MA in journalism with a focus in environmental reporting from the University of Colorado Boulder.

An avalanche left more than a dozen bicyclists trapped for hours on Glacier National Park’s Going-to-the-Sun road Monday. Crews worked to plow through the snow and get the bikers to safety.

Map showing the area between estimated occupied grizzly bear range in the NCDE to the north and the GYE to the south.
Lisa Landenburger, USGS - Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team. Public domain. Source: Peck et al. 2017.

The Trump Administration Friday asked a federal appeals court to remove Endangered Species Act protections for Yellowstone-area grizzly bears.

Former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke stripped federal protections for those bears in 2017, but a federal judge in Missoula returned the grizzlies to the endangered species list last fall. That move cancelled what would been the first grizzly hunts in the lower 48 in decades, scheduled in Wyoming and Idaho.

Hilary Cooley, the grizzly bear recovery coordinator for the Fish and Wildlife Service, presenting at an annual meeting on grizzlies in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem, Nov. 20, 2018.
Nick Mott / Montana Public Radio

The Trump Administration must decide by Friday whether to appeal a ruling from a federal judge in Missoula last fall that put Yellowstone-area grizzly bears back on the endangered species list.

"Good Neighbor Authority" allows states and tribes to help the Forest Service with projects on national forest land. The Taylor Hellroaring project near Whitefish is one such project.
U.S. Forest Service

Public comment ends this week on a Forest Service project near Whitefish which proposes to use so-called “good neighbor authority” to collaborate with the State of Montana. It’s a new approach that could mark a shift in which parties get a say in managing national forests.

An aquatic invasive species inspection station in Montana.
Nick Mott / Montana Public Radio

A coalition of state, federal, tribal and private organizations dedicated to protecting the Columbia River Watershed from aquatic invasive species (AIS) met in Polson Wednesday. They said building connections between local groups and water managers will be crucial to prevent the spread of zebra and quagga mussels in Montana.

A bill that would ban sport hunting of grizzly bears in the lower 48 states gets a hearing in a U.S. House committee Wednesday. It would extend protections for grizzlies even if they’re removed from the endangered species list.
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks

A bill that would ban sport hunting of grizzly bears in the lower 48 states gets a hearing in a U.S. House committee Wednesday. It would extend protections for grizzlies even if they’re removed from the endangered species list.

Grizzly bear historic and current range.
Lisa Landenburger, USGS - Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team. Public domain. Sources: IUCN, M. Proctor, Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team.

At their peak, grizzly bears numbered more than 50,000 in the Lower 48. They roamed from the West Coast to the Great Plains, from northern Alaska to central Mexico. Facing threats from habitat loss, hunting and conflicts with people and livestock, their numbers dwindled to fewer than 1,000 in the lower 48 by the time the Endangered Species Act (ESA) was implemented in 1975. Today, managers say the Greater Yellowstone and Northern Continental Divide populations have recovered and are ready for delisting. Here's a timeline of the management actions, court cases and notable events that have shaped grizzly bear recovery since their ESA listing through today.

Canada lynx.
(PD)

The timber industry, land managers and environmentalists are at loggerheads in lynx country. Canada lynx have been listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act since 2000, they’re at the heart of legal battles over forest management; and in 2017, Montana politicians blamed a lawsuit over lynx protection for the 18,000-acre Park Creek Fire outside Lincoln, along with other blazes across the state.

A boat at the Flathead Lake Biological Station.
Corin Cates-Carney / Montana Public Radio

The Flathead Lake Biological Station added a new monitoring site in Polson Bay last month that could help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species and generate valuable information about the ecosystem.

Jim Elser, director of the Station, says near Polson the lake is shallower and warmer than at the other monitoring station, and sees different kinds of use.

Two Medicine River, in the Badger-Two Medicine area.
Courtesy Gene Sentz

The Blackfeet Nation says it will ask a federal court on Monday to continue a fight to protect the Badger-Two Medicine area, after the US Interior Department reversed course on oil leases there.

"That was a surprise, we were totally caught off guard," says Tyson Runningwolf, a Democratic representative from Browning, and a member of the tribe.

"There’s one thing that unifies the tribe always and that’s protecting the Badger-Two Medicine at all costs, whatever it takes to be involved in protecting it from oil and gas development and protecting that sacred area," he says.

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