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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

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.

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

9596

Attorneys

Case Updates

August 22, 2014 | Press Release: Victory

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.

March 25, 2011 | Feature

Crown of the Continent: Taming the Wild West

The "Crown of the Continent" ecosystem is one of the largest undeveloped landscapes remaining in the country, containing some of the most spectacular scenery and intact wildlife populations in the United States. But climate change is now dramatically altering this region, one of America's last wild places.

March 25, 2011 | Feature

Down to Earth: Tim Preso on Wildlife of the Crown of the Continent

Earthjustice is working to protect some of the threatened species in the Crown and elsewhere in the northern Rockies. Listen to Earthjustice Attorney Tim Preso speak about the importance of wolverines and other iconic wildlife to the region.

December 14, 2006 | Feature

Northern Rockies Grizzly Bears Win One in Court

A federal judge has rejected 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.

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.

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