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New Forest Plan Amendment Sets Grizzly Bear Habitat Standards | Environment

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New Forest Plan Amendment Sets Grizzly Bear Habitat Standards
Environment, News
New Forest Plan Amendment Sets Grizzly Bear Habitat Standards

After nearly fifteen years of debating the science of Grizzly Bear habitat, Northern Rockies Forests have finally set up a new amendment that sets the standards for forest planning.

The amendment sets the standards for motorized access in national forests and the northern third of the Idaho Panhandle forest. It doesn’t affect on-the-ground forest plans, but sets goals and standards for future planning.

Jason Kirchner, forest public affairs, has only been with the project for two years, but some employees have been working on this project since the beginning in the late 1990s.

“This decision, for us, is the best balance between maintaining the access for recreaters and maintaining the bears -- and the science supports that,” Kirchner said.

The Grizzly Bear Access Amendment reduces road density in Grizzly habitat. Officials are hoping the downward mortality rate of the bears in recovery zones will continue with this new amendment.

It will take about eight years to bring ten bear habitat units up to speed with the new standards. Twenty of the habitat units already meet standards.

Kirchner added some projects are already in the works in the Priest Lake and Bonners Ferry area.

There is no estimated cost for each unit. Each unit will require a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis.

Online: You can read more about the new amendment and its impact at the Forest Service’s website. The most recent Record of Decision document [.PDF] is online as well. 

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