Winter Newsletter: A Time to Reflect!

Our Winter 2020 newsletter reports on the Forest Service's return to its road-building binge, how it is trashing our climate, what we are doing about it, and how the government is trying to use executive privilege to hide Flathead Forest planning documents from public and judicial review!

Below is our newsletter's table of contents. Click here to view or download it as a pdf.

A big THANK YOU to those of you who have made donations that support our continuing work!

Won't you join them and make a donation here?

Fish, wildlife and people are counting on us - and you!


This article published on February 09, 2020 • [Permalink]

Flathead NF Breaks Pledge to Maintain Grizzly Bear Habitat Security!

The revised Flathead Forest Plan pledged to maintain the on-the-ground grizzly bear habitat conditions that existed in 2011, in order to be consistent with the NCDE Grizzly Bear Conservation Strategy and plans to remove Endangered Species Act protections from NCDE grizzly bears.

Now the Flathead says it will not maintain those levels of habitat security as it increases human development of bear habitat - and claims it isn't required to do so under its revised (2018) Forest Plan!

Swan View Coalition, Friends of the Wild Swan, and Independent Wildlife Consultant Brian Peck summarize this about-face in their primary Objection to the Flathead's Hellroaring Basin Improvement's Project.

The Flathead admits the HBIP would reduce grizzly bear habitat security in Hellroaring Basin by constructing two new chairlifts, their service roads, new ski runs, and the thinning of forest hiding cover for glade skiing. The Flathead also admits that two mountain bike trails to be built in Hellroaring Basin, among the 28 miles being constructed under the already approved Taylor Hellroaring Project, will also displace bears from their habitat.

The Flathead nonetheless attempts to make it look like this is consistent with its pledge to maintain the level of 2011 grizzly bear habitat security, a 1995 requirement to maintain bear security in Hellroaring Basin on the south side of Big Mountain as Whitefish Mountain Resort was expanded to the north side of Big Mountain, and the revised Forest Plan’s condition to provide increased grizzly bear security in the Hellroaring watershed. It does so by saying it will maintain its 2011 baseline security parameters, but then intentionally not quantifying the additional displacement of bears and not measuring it against those parameters, making it appear the 2011 baseline is not being degraded.

The Objectors find this same "phony numbers" system is being applied to all projects being implemented under the revised Forest Plan, masking the on-the-ground impacts of scores of miles of new logging road construction, the construction of 80 miles of new mountain bike trails, and ski area developments like those in Hellroaring Basin. Objectors list five ways in which impacts to bears are not being included in, and hence limited by, the 2011 baseline security parameters:

1. Allowing unlimited miles of non-motorized trails to be constructed with no trail density standard - or 2011 Baseline parameter - to limit them.

2. Allowing unlimited miles of non-motorized “high-use” trails to exist in the Secure Core Baseline parameter by redefining the previous Plan's Amendment 19 “Security Core” in order to allow them to go undetected in the revised Plan’s “Secure Core.” “Security Core” did not allow such high-use trails.

3. Allowing an unlimited mileage of roads - by not including roads with the entrance simply rendered “impassable” to motor vehicles in Total Road Density, even though the road will be retained as a road and continue to contribute human impacts to grizzly bear habitat. This was not allowed under Amendment 19, which required that roads had to be reclaimed and no longer function as roads or trails, motorized or non-motorized, to be omitted from TRD.

4. By not including Special Use Permit roads that are on Forest Service land, and often simply closed by gates, in calculations of TRD. 

5. By allowing road construction and the relaxing of road closure types to diminish the amount of “security habitat” greater than 500 meters from roads simply because that habitat does not already remain in blocks of at least 2,500 acres. This is essentially a license to further fragment already fragmented habitats and further relegate security habitat to higher elevations rather than allow it to persist in critical lower elevations such as Hellroaring Basin.

Objectors ask for a new Environmental Impact Statement to look at the cumulative impacts of the many projects being implemented under the revised Forest Plan, the degradation of bear habitat and security going unaccounted for, and to reinstate the former Plan's Amendment 19 with modifications to insure that it does not allow impacts to bears to go unaccounted for.

The details of the Flathead's admissions are summarized in Objectors' primary Objection and in the Flathead's Project File Exhibits it references.

Click here for our primary Objection to the Hellroaring Basin Improvements Project.

Click here and scroll down for links to the various Project File Exhibits referenced in our primary Objection.

Click here for our supplemental Objection to the Hellroaring Basin Improvements Project (detailing inconsistencies with the Forest Plan and the National Environmental Policy Act).

Click here for our Objection press release.

Click here for the resulting Missoula Current news article.

Click here for the Flathead's Hellroaring Basin, Taylor Hellroaring, and other project documents.


This article published on January 09, 2020 • [Permalink]

Your Comments on Commercial Round Meadow Shuttle and Guide Service Needed Now!

Your comments on permitting a commercial shuttle and ski/snowshoe guide service on the Flathead NF's Round Meadow Winter Trails are due Dec 22!

The Flathead has failed to make adequate public announcement about this proposed commercial permit.

But the Flathead is accepting public comment through December 22 and here is what we've learned from Tally Lake District Ranger Bill Mulholland:

1. Whitefish Shuttle Livery and Guiding requested this permit on October 1, but the Flathead is just now getting around to asking some members of the public what they think of the idea.

2. The permit would run from December 23, 2019 through April 1, 2020, and would allow a maximum of 200 clients to be dropped off at and/or be guided on the groomed trail system.

3. Only one shuttle or guided trip would be allowed each day. "This could equate to approximately 3-4 visitors a day at Round Meadows."

4. "Currently parking at the trailhead is limited during peak use times."

5. Ranger Mulholland did not indicate whether clients can drive themselves to the trailhead and be guided from there or whether they must use the shuttle service.

6. Ranger Mulholland declined to notify the press of this proposal.

If you have thoughts or concerns about this proposal, please email them to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or phone Julie Gerrior at 406-758-3542.

You may also want to let the Flathead know you want everyone to have more than a few days notice to comment on proposals that may affect their National Forest!

Click here to read Swan View Coalition's comments.

Click here for Ranger Mulholland's skimpy public notice packet.


This article published on December 20, 2019 • [Permalink]

Patagonia Will Match/Double Your Donation to Swan View Coalition!

UPDATE 12/16/19: Patagonia has now met its pledge to match $10 million in donations to participating organizations! If you still wish to make a year-end donation on-line to Swan View Coalition, please click on the Donate Now button on this web page.

THANK YOU to those of you that donated nearly $4,000 to support our work via Patagonia Action Works in the first half of December - and THANK YOU to Patagonia for matching those donations!


Patagonia will match/double your donation to support the work of Swan View Coalition if you donate now!

Patagonia has pledged to match up to $10 million in donations to participating organizations through December 31, but has already matched $6 million!

So donate now via our Patagonia Action Works page if you want Patagonia to match/double your donation!

Your generosity enables us to keep America's roadless areas roadless, keep America's remaining old-growth forests standing, and promote ecosystem restoration through limits on off-road vehicles and the reclamation of excessive logging roads!

THANK YOU for your support of our work!


This article published on December 12, 2019 • [Permalink]

Holidays Newsletter: Seeds of Hope in Dark Times!

Our Holidays 2019 newsletter takes a look at what each of us can do to minimize our consumption of natural resources and to minimize our disruption of wildlife when recreating!

It is intended to help us engage in sustainable re-creation rather than unsustainable wreck-creation.

It also announces that Patagonia will match donations made here to Swan View Coalition from Nov 29 through Dec 31!

Below is our newsletter's table of contents. Click here to view or download it as a pdf.

A big THANK YOU to those of you who have made donations that support our continuing work!

Won't you join them and make a donation here between Nov 29 and Dec 31 so it will be matched/double by Patagonia?

Fish, wildlife and people are counting on us - and you!



This article published on November 29, 2019 • [Permalink]

Newsletter: Public Voice Being Silenced on Public Land Issues!

Our Summer-Fall 2019 newsletter reports on how the broader public voice is being sidelined as the Forest Service pursues new regulations, collaboration and public-private partnerships to more quickly serve private interests!

It also reports on how this is resulting in even greater promotion of both logging and unsustainable recreational development on the Flathead National Forest in particular.

Below is our newsletter's table of contents. Click here to view or download it as a pdf.

A big THANK YOU to those of you who have made donations that support our continuing work!

Won't you join them and DONATE NOW? If you do so soon, Cinnabar Foundation will match/double your donation!

Fish, wildlife and people are counting on us - and you!


This article published on October 06, 2019 • [Permalink]

Your Prompt Donation Matched by Cinnabar Foundation!

Your prompt donation to support our work will be matched/doubled by Cinnabar Foundation!

Be among the first $4,000 in donations and your donation will explode like the fireweed seed shown here!

This is Cinnabar's way of making your donation go even further in helping us keep America's roadless areas roadless, keeping its old-growth forest standing, and restoring its damaged ecosystems through limits on off-road vehicles and the reclamation of excessive roads!

Simply CLICK HERE TO DONATE or send a check to Swan View Coalition at 3165 Foothill Road, Kalispell, MT 59901!

THANK YOU for your support of our work and for helping us meet Cinnabar's $4,000 challenge/matching grant!


This article published on September 22, 2019 • [Permalink]

Bear Expert Opposes Trail-Running Permits, Forest Supervisor Objects!

(updated 7/1/19 and 10/21/19)

Dr. Chris Servheen says he opposes the issuance of Special Use Permits for ultra-marathon trail-running races in bear habitat and wants permits for mountain bike guiding to comply with interagency recommendations for minimizing bear-human conflicts.

His comments were submitted to the Flathead National Forest during a public comment period on several such permits.

Dr. Servheen was Chair of the Board of Review investigating the death of Brad Treat when he slammed into a grizzly bear while mountain biking at high speed on the Flathead NF.

The Board of Review, which included two Flathead NF staff, recommends that people not run or bike fast in bear habitat. The BOR based its recommendations on numerous instances of people and bears being injured or killed due to surprise encounters during running and biking.

Dr. Servheen wrote "Issuing such permits will send the public a very conflicting message about how to recreate in bear habitat and send a bad message about the veracity of agency advice about how to recreate safely where there are bears . . . doing so will contradict years of agency educational efforts."

Flathead Forest Supervisor Chip Weber objected to the recommendations of the BOR at the June 25 meeting of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee and in an opinion piece to newspapers. He falsely claims that trail running and fast mountain biking are no more likely to cause a human-bear encounter than walking or hiking.

News accounts and Swan View's response to Weber note that the BOR cites substantial research in support of its findings and recommendations.

Click here to read the Daily Inter Lake article "Bear Expert Opposes Permits for Running Events."

Click here for Dr. Servheen's comments.

Click here for the Board of Review Recommendations.

Click here for MT Dept. of Fish Wildlife and Parks' findings: "Increased speed can increase the likelihood of surprising a bear at close range. Even during planned events with numerous participants, negative encounters including fatalities, can and have occurred."

Click here for MTPR's story on the IGBC meeting.

Click here for the Missoulian article about Supervisor Weber's objections.

Click here for Supervisor Weber's guest opinion.

Click here for Swan View Coalition's letter to editors in response to Weber's objections.

Click here for "When Cyclists Collide with Bears," an excellent summary of bike-bear collisions and the research showing fast travel results in increased risk of surprise encounters between people and bears!

Click here for "Who Owns the Wild: Grizzlies or Humans? The fight to balance recreation with wildlife is coming to a head."

Click here for Swan View's press release expressing disappointment in the approval of the Whitefish Legacy Partners and Foys to Blacktail trail marathon permits and the dangerous precedent they set on the Flathead NF.

Click here for more background on this issue.


This article published on June 25, 2019 • [Permalink]

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