Swan View Report Shows Road Closure Effectiveness Far Lower than Forest Service Claims!

Despite a sign, an earth berm, maps, and promises, motorized use of closed road 10561 persists, reducing intended wildlife security!

Swan View Coalition recently released a report based on its 2022 inspection of 303 Forest Service road closure devices in the Flathead National Forest’s Swan Valley Geographic Area. The group found only 53% of the gates, berms and boulders showed no signs of motor vehicle use behind them. When adjusted to account for Forest Service exceptions allowing administrative and logging contractor use behind closures, effectiveness rose to only 68%, far short of the 92% effectiveness claimed by the Flathead NF for 2019-2020.

Swan View Coalition and Friends of the Wild Swan in 2019 filed a lawsuit over the revised Flathead Forest Plan and Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2017 biological opinion approving of its effects on threatened grizzly bears and bull trout. On June 24, 2021, U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy ruled that the biological opinion’s “failure to consider the effect of ineffective road closures was arbitrary and capricious” and violated the Endangered Species Act. He cited a 2004 Swan View Coalition road closure study and the Forest Service's own data finding road closures ineffective, ordering FWS to redo its opinion.

FWS issued a revised biological opinion February 16, 2022, relying on the Flathead’s finding its closures were 92% effective, promises of a better road closure monitoring system, and promises that the Forest Service would fix its ineffective closures “as soon as they are able.” The conservation groups filed a new lawsuit against the revised biological opinion in 2022, again arguing it does not adequately contend with the fact that the revised Forest Plan abandoned the prior Plan’s reliance on road reclamation and the removal of culverts to make the closures more effective in protecting grizzly bears and bull trout. Swan View Coalition recently submitted its new road closure report to the District Court as a part of that lawsuit.

The report includes photos showing instances where the Flathead has taken seven years to repair an ineffective closure, even when the likely unlawful killing of a wolverine behind the closure was discovered and reported. Also reported is the fact the Forest Service promised FWS it would continue to monitor closure effectiveness but instead switched to monitoring whether a closure is “functional” in 2021 and 2022. Moreover, the Flathead refused to describe how “functional” compares to “effective” when its inspection data indicates a number of reportedly “functional” closures also show clear evidence of being breached by unauthorized motor vehicles.

“Road reclamation and culvert removals are necessary to protect fish and wildlife,” said Keith Hammer, Chair of Swan View Coalition. “Both agency- and citizen-gathered data show that gates, berms and boulders are not enough to stop motor vehicle trespass and that unmaintained culverts eventually fail and put the road dirt into the trout stream.”

The report is located here.

The U.S. District Court in Missoula has recently ruled against the government's handling of its road closure programs on the Kootenai National Forest and the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest. (Click on these two links for the Court's Orders, which also provide background on this continuing controversy).

This Missoula Current article by Laura Lundquist also provides more context for our new road closure report.

This article published on September 12, 2023 • [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 reproduce like the mountain maple seeds 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!

We are currently working to insure our Flathead Forest Plan lawsuit victory results in good changes on the ground, not just on paper - by litigating Fish and Wildlife Service's revised biological opinion and the Forest Service's reliance upon it.

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

This article published on August 02, 2023 • [Permalink]

Help Push Back on the Commercialization of the Flathead National Forest!

Your email is needed today to push back on 25 commercial Special Use Permits (SUPs) being issued on the Flathead National Forest!

Only you can help stop the commercial overcrowding of the Flathead NF, which is poised to permit 100-person backpacking trips, 400-person ultra-marathons, and more!

Click here to read about the 100-person Highlander backpacking event being promoted by the Kalispell Chamber of Commerce in order to bring more tourists to an area already overrun with tourists! They hope the event is expanded in future years!

Click here for the Flathead's summary letter inviting public comments by May 26, 2023.

Click here for more detail on each of the 25 commercial Special Use Permits.

Click here for our May 15 letter objecting to this "shotgun approach" to SUPs and requesting a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the Flathead's SUP and recreation programs.

Send your email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) by May 26 and consider making these points:

1. Quit allowing commercial outfits like Croatia's Highlander to sell $700 positions in its 100-person event before the public has even been allowed to comment on the idea!

2. Quit trying to mask the impact of these events on wildlife and other forest users by bragging that participants will pick up their own trash!

3. Quit allowing commercial businesses to make money off of promoting the crowding of our National Forests!

4. Quit dumping two dozen SUP proposals on the public and expecting people to research and comment on them within two weeks!

5. Prepare an adequate EIS for the Flathead's SUP and recreation programs and allow the public the required months to comment on it!

Include comments about any of the individual SUPs you have time to become familiar with.

These are public lands, not commercial lands for private profit - and only you can help push back on this commercialization!

Thank you for taking a few moments to comment!

(photo credit: Glacier National Park)

This article published on May 23, 2023 • [Permalink]

Winter Spring Newsletter: Government and Industry Set to Log it All!

Our Winter-Spring newsletter asks you to send a quick email to help stop DNRC from logging the last of its hemlock forests in Krause Basin, then shows how DNRC's proposal aligns with federal proposals that also promote logging to "restore" forests to false "historic" conditions. We provide links to a growing body of research revealing a "falsification of the scientific record in government-funded wildfire studies" that are being used to promote the logging of native forests.

We also announce that your donation to support our work will be matched/doubled by a generous local donor if you donate now!

Below is our newsletter's table of contents. Click here to view or download our newsletter 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 today?

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

This article published on April 17, 2023 • [Permalink]

Help Stop DNRC Logging in Krause Basin Today!

MT Department of Natural Resources and Conservation intends to log more of what little native hemlock forest it hasn't logged already in Krause Basin! Please help us stop this phony "forest restoration" now!

Don't let DNRC do to this hemlock forest:

What it did to this hemlock forest in Krause Basin:

Please email DNRC's Pete Seigmund at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) today and make the following points:

1. Don't log any more Western hemlock forests on DNRC lands!

2. Cutting down native hemlock forest to plant commercially valuable white pine and larch is not "forest restoration," it is ecosystem genocide!

3. Leave alone the block of hemlock forest along DNRC's access road running north from Foothill Road into Krause Basin. It is the last stand of hemlock the public can walk through and enjoy along this old closed road!

4. DNRC's past logging via the 2006 Foothills Timber Sale and subsequent blowdown "salvage" has turned the area into a denuded weed patch. "Restoration" requires that DNRC fix these problems, not create more problems through more logging!

​5. Krause Basin cannot afford to lose another 50 log trucks full of logs cut from trees essential to ecosystem function and carbon storage!

Click here to read our letter to DNRC, along with our map and photos detailing these problems and logging threats.

Click here to read DNRC's "Initial Proposal: Foothills Restoration Project."

Your comments are due by May 5. Best send them today so you can't forget!

Thank you for taking a few minutes to let DNRC know you want the hemlock forests in Krause Basin left alone!

This article published on April 12, 2023 • [Permalink]

Double Your Donation Now!

MDFWP photo

Wake up! A generous donor has agreed to match $5,000 in donations to Swan View Coalition!

So DONATE NOW and see your donation doubled!

Grizzly bears are emerging from their winter dens and are faced with logging, roads, industrial-strength recreation, and proposals to strip them of their protections under the Endangered Species Act!

They need our help and yours, so please help us to continue our lawsuit against the revised Flathead Forest Plan, to oppose the Flathead's onslaught of commercial recreational Special Use Permits, and to oppose efforts to "delist" grizzly bears.

When we protect the bears and their habitat, we also protect many other wildlife species!

Please join with others today to support our work on behalf of fish and wildlife!

Thank you!

This article published on March 23, 2023 • [Permalink]

Holidays Newsletter: Learning from Our Past and Moving Forward!

Our Holidays 2022 newsletter looks at how recreation gets out of control on public lands and what we can do about it. It also provides a brief summary of our work in 2022 and why your membership is important!

Below is our newsletter's table of contents. Click here to view or download our newsletter 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 today?

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

This article published on November 30, 2022 • [Permalink]

Giving Thanks!

This Thanksgiving we are thankful to have public lands worth protecting and your support of our work to do so!

It is your kind words and your monetary donations that have kept us at the forefront of public lands conservation since 1984!

Thank you for your support and may you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

This article published on November 23, 2022 • [Permalink]

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