Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Roads are NOT 'A Bears Best Friend'

The building of new roads in wilderness areas are a major threat to the conservation of bear habitat. Montana Forest Service and Environmental groups have found a compromise on fire safety plans and grizzly habitat.

In a court ruling July 30, 2007, a judge upheld a motion for protecting grizzly bear habitat by restricting the building of new roads in an area proposed for timber removal to reduce fire danger on the Gallatin National Forest. At the same time the judge allowed 2500 acres of trees to be removed to reduce fire danger and enhance escape routes for residents. Fast burning pine trees will be harvested and replaced with less-flammable aspen trees along the Boulder River. Judge Donald Molloy restricted road building for harvesting timber within 1000 acres of prime grizzly bear habitat.

Forest Service Ranger Bill Avey said they were “real happy” with the ruling. Michael Garrity with Native Ecosystems Council and Alliance for the Wild Rockies said the ruling upheld the goals of prime conservation areas for grizzly bears by restricting road building. The ruling will have far reaching effects for road building in grizzly bear habitat throughout north western states.

Source: Great Falls Tribune 7/31/07

Submitted by Julie L. (Hayes) Hopkins