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Protecting Grizzly Bears from Inadequate Road Standards

A grizzly bear on a ridge.

The Cabinet-Yaak and Selkirk populations each number only about 40 bears.

National Park Service Photo

What's at Stake

Earthjustice successfully challenged the government’s decision to approve new road access standards that are inadequate to protect grizzly bears and their habitat.

Case Overview

In 2004, the Forest Service and Fish and Wildlife Service approved new road access standards through grizzly bear habitat in Montana, Idaho, and Washington that were inadequate to protect the bears and their habitat. The standards applied to the portions of the Kootenai, Lolo, and Idaho Panhandle National Forests within the Cabinet-Yaak and Selkirk grizzly bear recovery zones.

The Cabinet-Yaak and Selkirk populations each number only about 40 bears, and each has suffered high human-caused mortalities in recent years related to an 8,500-mile system of old logging roads. Yet, the Forest Service's road plan promised only minor changes in the status quo, and even allowed new road-building in some of the best remaining grizzly bear habitat in the Cabinet-Yaak and Selkirk regions.

Earthjustice filed a lawsuit to reform the standards, and in 2006, a federal judge rejected the Forest Service plan, ruling that the agency improperly relied on incomplete information when it adopted a new road management plan that maintains 95 percent of an 8,500-mile road system that has degraded habitat for the Cabinet-Yaak and Selkirk Mountains grizzly populations.

Case ID



Case Updates

August 22, 2014 | Press Release

Judge Halts Plan to Eliminate Secure Grizzly Bear Habitat in Northwest Montana

A federal judge has blocked a plan to carve new roads into a 36,700-acre block of secure grizzly bear habitat within the Stillwater State Forest in northwest Montana. The judge’s ruling, issued late Thursday, preserves the “Stillwater Core” grizzly bear habitat from elimination under a plan by the State of Montana that called for building new roads to open the area to increased logging.

December 13, 2006 | Legal Document

Grizzly roads decision 121306

Order rejecting a U.S. Forest Service plan to manage roads in habitat for two critically imperiled grizzly bear populations in northwest Montana, northern Idaho and northeast Washington.