Montana Public Radio

U.S. Forest Service

USFWS Says Canada Lynx Are Ready To Be Delisted

Jan 11, 2018
Canada lynx.
(PD)

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the Canada lynx may have recovered to the point where it could be delisted as a threatened species.

The elusive cat was listed as threatened nearly 20 years ago. But since then, Jennifer Strickland with the Fish and Wildlife Service says the federal government has done a good job of protecting and expanding lynx-friendly habitat.

The Flathead National Forest released the final draft of its new forest plan Dec. 14, 2017.
Nicky Ouellet

The Flathead National Forest released the final draft of its new forest plan Thursday morning after four years of fine-tuning and analysis. The plan will guide land use decision making for the next 10 to 15 years.

Flathead National Forest Supervisor Chip Weber says writing a guiding document like this is a balancing act between thousands of stakeholders.

Republican Senator Steve Daines introduced legislation Thursday that would end wilderness study area protections for some federal lands in Montana. But conservation groups aren't happy. 

The Park Creek Fire north of Lincoln, summer 2017.
Inciweb

More than 700,000 acres of national forest land across Montana and Idaho burned this summer, and U.S. Forest Service officials are now deciding what to do with it. The agency this fall set up a post-fire incident management team to quickly analyze damage and plan next steps.

Those steps include salvage logging, a controversial process that Incident Commander Mike Elson says will cover about 5 percent of burned areas across the region.

Caption The US Forest Service has proposed several thinning projects this fall aimed at reducing fuels in dry pine forests like this in the Bitterroot National Forest.
Nora Saks

Montana lawmakers are scoring political points by blaming environmentalists for suing to shut down logging projects on public lands. But public lands logging is both feeding area sawmills and reducing wildfire risk. MTPR's Nora Saks reports on a couple of projects in the Bitterroot Valley.

Keith Williams (CC-BY-2.0)

On Monday, Republican Senator Steve Daines joined three other Republicans in releasing draft legislation they say would reverse the so-called Cottonwood decision. Both Daines and his Democratic counterpart, Jon Tester, see it as one way to prevent wildfires, but it’s much bigger than that.

Trapper Peak near Hamilton, Montana.
US Forest Service photo, by Roger Peterson

The Bitterroot National Forest wants to raise the price to use 14 campgrounds and three cabins. The proposed fees would affect campgrounds in the Stevensville, West Fork and Darby/Sula ranger districts including the Charles Waters Campground, the Magruder Ranger’s House and the Como Lake Campground.

National Forest Counting, Surveying Users

Oct 2, 2017
Helena Lewis and Clark National Forest

If you spend much time in the Helena - Lewis and Clark National Forest, you might find yourself unexpectedly talking to rangers. This week, the national forest started a one-year survey to count how many people use the publicly-owned land. In addition to road and trail counters at randomly chosen spots in the Helena, Lincoln and Townsend ranger districts, that means a Forest Service employee might stop you on a hike to ask about your visit. According to the agency, these interviews will take about ten minutes.

Rep Gianforte Plans 'Forest Jobs Tour'

Sep 14, 2017
PD

Congressman Greg Gianforte is kicking off what he’s calling a “Forest Jobs Tour” tomorrow in Helena. A press release says, “Gianforte will hold a roundtable briefing on the status of the Stonewall Project with key stakeholders.”

The Stonewall project is a U.S. Forest Service vegetation management proposal that called for logging, thinning and controlled-burning about 5,000 acres north of Lincoln. Shortly after it was approved in 2016 a federal judge temporarily halted it in response to a lawsuit from the Alliance for the Wild Rockies.

The Park Creek Fire north of Lincoln, summer 2017.
Inciweb

In a visit to the Lolo Peak Fire command post last week, a delegation of cabinet secretaries and Montana’s Republican representatives in Congress made it clear who they think is to blame for the devastating wildfires here in recent years.

"We’re tied up in knots through extensive and ridiculous permitting processes, and frivolous lawsuits from environmental extremists," says Congressman Greg Gianforte.

We’re going to hear from one of the people Gianforte calls an extremist in a moment. He’s the man behind the lawsuit Gianforte is complaining about here:

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