Swan View Coalition has issued a critical review of the Biological Assessment of the final revised Flathead Forest Plan, along with Friends of the Wild Swan.
The groups find the Plan wholly inadequate in its protection of fish, wildlife and wildlands. Their review is based on the Flathead's Biological Assessment of the pending revised Flathead Forest Plan.
The Assessment was obtained under the Freedom of Information Act along with other Biological Assessments and Biological Opinions written for recently completed consultations with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding impacts to threatened grizzly bear, bull trout and lynx.
The Flathead had promised to post the Assessments and Opinions on its Forest Planning web site by December 1, but instead provided them to Swan View Coalition on CD. The Flathead had hoped to release its revised Forest Plan in November and is now hoping to do so in December.
The Flathead is also responsible for writing and releasing Forest Plan grizzly bear amendments for the other four Forests in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem, reducing protections for grizzly bear in all five Plans as Fish and Wildlife Service plans to remove (delist) the NCDE grizzly bear from Endangered Species Act protections in 2018.
UPDATE: The Flathead did release its revised Forest Plan and NCDE amendments on December 14, 2017, posting them, the BAs and the BiOps on its Forest Planning page.
Click here for the groups' 12/12/17 press release, which secured us coverage in the following news:
Click here for the 12/15/17 Daily Inter Lake news article.
Click here for the 12/16/17 Flathead Beacon news article.
Click here for the 12/16/17 Missoulian news article.
Click here for the 12/14/17 MTPR radio story.
Click here for the Flathead's Biological Assessment of its revised Forest Plan.
Click here for FWS's Biological Opinion on the revised Flathead Forest Plan.
Click here for the Biological Assessment of the Four-Forest Grizzly Bear Plan Amendments.
Click here for FWS's Biological Opinion on the Four-Forest Grizzly Bear Plan Amendments.
Nokio Creek culvert blowout - Flathead NF photo.
Swan View Coalition, Friends of the Wild Swan and WildEarth Guardians put the Flathead National Forest on notice they will file suit over logging road impacts to bull trout.
Below is the press release with links to the Notice of Intent to File Suit and Keith Hammer's "Roads to Ruin" report providing photos and background on the failure of the Flathead NF to adequately inspect and maintain its logging roads and culverts.
Click here for the resulting KAJ-TV coverage using photos like the one above.
Click here for the resulting Daily Inter Lake news article by Patrick Reilly.
Click here to read our rebuttal to the Flathead Forest Supervisor's claim that there are no "impaired" watersheds on his Forest due to proactive management.
Click here for the resulting Missoulian news article by Perry Backus.
Failures in Road Management Place Bull Trout at Risk
Conservation Groups Send Notice of Intent to File Suit to Flathead National Forest
November 16, 2017
Kalispell, MT – Yesterday three conservation groups warned the Forest Service of their intent to file suit under the Endangered Species Act in order to protect threatened bull trout and its critical habitat. The Forest Service’s inadequate management and monitoring of logging roads on the Flathead National Forest in northwest Montana threatens to degrade bull trout streams by increasing the risk of culvert failure, leading to road washouts that smother streams in road sediment, destroy fish eggs and prevent young fish from growing.
The notice letter outlines the Forest Service’s failure to comply with numerous biological opinions written by the Fish and Wildlife Service during the past fifteen years. These biological opinions directed the Forest Service to remove stream-aligned culverts from closed logging roads—or, alternatively, to monitor them annually to insure they do not plug. Plugged culverts are prone to fail over time due to accumulation of dirt and debris in the small openings. A plugged culvert is likely to blow out during a rain or snowmelt event, depositing sediment into bull trout streams.
Though the Forest Service has largely failed to follow either of the Fish and Wildlife Service directives, records show it is aware that far more culverts are failing or are at high risk of failing than initially thought, and that failing roads and culverts put the bull trout and its habitat in peril.
In addition to its history of inadequate road management, the Forest Service proposed to relax culvert monitoring from annual monitoring to monitoring once every six years. Best science and a history of culvert failures on the Flathead and other national forests do not support such a move: culverts can plug and blow out in a single season if not inspected and cleaned.
Swan View Coalition Chair Keith Hammer has spent the last couple of years requesting the Flathead’s annual culvert monitoring reports. “The Flathead has failed pretty much across the board to conduct annual culvert monitoring,” he said. “The monitoring it has done shows that up to two-thirds of the culverts inspected are at high risk of failure. Rather than dedicate the funding and staff to do the inspections and either fix or remove the culverts, the Flathead is looking to eliminate the requirement for annual inspections.”
“Our native fish require cold, clean water to spawn and rear,” said Arlene Montgomery of Friends of the Wild Swan. “Unmaintained culverts are like ticking time bombs in our streams; when they plug up and blow out they dump tons of sediment into spawning gravels, impacting reproduction and growth of fish. By ignoring the required monitoring the Flathead is endangering our water quality and fish habitat.”
“We hope the Fish and Wildlife Service rejects the Forest Service’s attempt to move the goal posts by abandoning annual culvert inspections,” said Marla Fox of WildEarth Guardians. “Rewarding poor performance with lower expectations would set a horrible precedent for other forests to bypass legally required protections that the Service determined necessary for bull trout survival and recovery.”
The notice letter cites to agency documents showing that agency assumptions that only 10-15% of culverts were at high risk of failing were replaced with findings of 35-40% and as high as 67% of culverts at high risk of failing. Notice, page 14.
The letter also cites to documents acknowledging 22 culverts had failed on the roads that had been inspected and that more failures were expected. Notice at 12-13.
UPDATE: Swan View Coalition testified on behalf of 15 other groups and organizations at a July 7, 2016 Grizzly Bear Habitat Workshop in Missoula, MT. We submitted more comments in January 2018 when FWS asked for comments, this time on its Draft Supplement to include HBRC in the Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan.
Click here for our 1/3/18 comments.
Click here for our 1/23/18 comments.
All you need to say is that you want grizzly bear recovery based on the promised security of grizzly bear habitat and key bear foods - and that you want FWS to abandon its current plan to instead reduce grizzly bear security in the face of growing human populations and impacts.
Remember, while the grizzly bear population in the entire Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem was estimated to be 765 bears in 2004 and has hopefully increased by a couple hundred bears since then, the human population of Flathead County alone grew by 1,800 people in 2014 and is estimated to reach 100,000 by 2018!
Click here to read Swan View's testimony or to help fine-tune your email to FWS.
Click here to watch NBC's coverage of the workshop.
Click here to read the Missoulian newspaper article about the workshop.
Click here to watch KPAX coverage of the workshop.
Click here (then scroll down) to view a list of links to the 26 documents attached to Swan View Coalition's testimony.
It's time to reaffirm wildlife protection, not abandon it!
The Forest Service is holding open houses in Kalispell and Missoula, June 20 and 22, to unveil its Draft EISs for a revised Flathead Forest Plan and grizzly bear management amendments on four other Forests.
Fish and Wildlife Service is holding a hearing in Missoula July 7 to take public comment on grizzly bear de-listing in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem that includes these five Forests!
While you have until October 3 to comment on how five National Forests, including the Flathead, propose to manage the NCDE grizzly bear, NOW is the time to start learning about it.
At either the Kalispell or Missoula open houses you'll be able to look at maps much larger than you'll find on-line and ask questions of Forest Service staff. Both are from 2 - 6 pm and don't involve formal presentations, so you can attend as long or little as you wish. The Kalispell open house is at the Forest Supervisor's Office, 650 Wolfpack Way. The Missoula open house is at the Hilton Garden Inn, 3720 N. Reserve Street.
We want to keep Flathead Forest Plan Amendment 19 from Alternative A to retain the best management of roads to protect grizzly bears, bull trout and other fish and wildlife. But we want the much larger areas of recommended wilderness that are included in Alternative C, which was written in part to reflect our Citizen reVision alternative and would finally ban motorized vehicles from the old trail network in the Krause Basin Wildlife Management Area pictured above!
We'll have more specific recommendations for your comments later in the summer. But make no mistake about it, Alternatives B, C and D as currently proposed would greatly reduce the broad protection of grizzly bear habitat from what is in the current Forest Plan, pave the way for their de-listing from the federal Endangered Species Act and result in sport killing of them under Montana State hunting management!
Don't be intimidated by all this - we are here to help you navigate the bureaucracy and do good things for fish and wildlife! THANKS FOR YOUR HELP!
Wildfire-prevention logging often burns anyway, leaving stumps instead of snags essential to wildlife. Flathead National Forest, 2015.
We need your help TODAY to stop Congress from attaching damaging logging riders to the pending must-pass spending bill!
Pro-logging members of Congress, including a number of western democrats, are attempting to boost logging, boost "collaboration" and weaken public environmental review of logging projects.
This is being done by attaching controversial, secretive "riders" to the upcoming must-pass Appropriations Bill!
The Forest Service supports streamling the National Environmental Policy Act to speed up logging projects, largely delegating NEPA's widespread public involvement to small groups of local collaborators. Companion authority to increase Congressional funding of private "collaborative partners" is also being sought!
In other words, Congress is trying to take another giant step behind closed doors to buy "public support" for damaging logging projects, leaving most American citizens behind!
Please call the Capitol Switchboard RIGHT NOW at 202-224-3121! They will direct your call so you can leave a message for your Senators and Representatives to not allow logging riders to be attached to the Appropriations Bill!
Please also call the White House at 202-456-1111 to help insure President Obama does not follow the Dept. of Agriculture and Forest Service down this disasterous path!
You can read about the pending riders to the Appropriations Bill at http://www.eenews.net/stories/1060029355 .
THANK YOU for taking a few minutes to ACT TODAY!
Though burning wood to produce electricity releases more carbon into the atmosphere than burning coal, the European Union says it releases no carbon at all - a bald-face trick of accounting!
This lie may be adopted by the U.S.'s EPA if it also ignores the many decades it will take for new trees to hopefully re-store that carbon and balance out as "carbon-neutral."
In other words, Europe is massively subsidizing the burning of wood to meet its 20-20-20 climate goals while actually increasing carbon emissions - while simultaneously and falsely claiming wood burning is as "renewable" as solar and wind and has no carbon emissions.
The U.S. already supplies half of Europe's wood pellets and is staged to repeat the same lies and mistakes at home as it also looks to reduce coal consumption!
University of Montana researcher Diana Six and others fault logging as a misguided substitute for the natural forest thinning being conducted by beetles.
In the journal Forests, Six and fellow researchers find the U of M, the Forest Service and others have failed to report failures of logging to maintain resilient trees while beetles have an innate ability to retain the most adaptive trees as they conduct nature's thinning.
They caution that misguided attempts to "do something" may simply over-log forests and point to research finding unlogged stands of both spruce and ponderosa pine have retained more live trees after beetle attacks than mechanically thinned stands.
They conclude "The manner in which policy makers have accepted beetle timber harvest treatments as a panacea for responding to bark beetle outbreaks in North American forests raises a number of red flags. . . It is perhaps no accident that the beetle treatments that have been most aggressively pushed for in the political landscape allow for logging activities that might provide revenue and jobs for the commercial timber industry. . . management should be led by science and informed by monitoring."
Facts are getting in the way of attempts to blame fires on a lack of logging and to blame a lack of logging on environmental lawsuits!
Greenwire reports Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell told a U.S. House Subcommittee hearing on the matter Thursday that only 5% of Forest Service timber sales were taken to court this year, while 16% of the timber sales failed because the timber industry simply refused to buy them!
And an abundance of research shows the importance of not trying to replace or follow fire with logging: "There is substantially less high-intensity fire now than there was historically, prior to fire suppression policies, and this post-fire habitat deficit is worsened by extensive post-fire clearcutting on national forests and private lands, and by landscape-level mechanical 'thinning' designed to further suppress fire, making snag forest habitat the most endangered forest habitat type in the U.S."
However, these facts hardly sway Congress as it works alongside the Forest Service and industry to perpetuate the lie that public forests are sick and need a logging "cure!" Congress and the Forest Service are, in fact, paying collaborators that help perpetuate these lies! (See our recent newsletter and our letter to editors in this regard. Click here for more details and supporting documents showing how the Forest Service is paying collaborators.)
We need your help stopping the perverse waste of your tax dollars trying to replace ecologically beneficial backcountry forest fires with subsidized, ecologically destructive logging!