Targhee NF's Plan threatens Yellowstone Grizzly Bears



Native Ecosystems Council - Dr. Sara Jane Johnson, 406-285-3611 The Alliance for the Wild Rockies - Michael Garrity, 406-459-5936 The Ecology Center - Jeff Juel 406 728-2320

Targhee National Forest's Revised Forest Plan threatens Yellowstone Grizzly Bears and other wildlife.
Conservation Groups File suit challenging illegal Forest Plan for Targhee National Forest.

MISSOULA - Today, three conservation organizations filed a comprehensive lawsuit in Federal District Court in Missoula against the U.S. Forest Service management plan for the Targhee National Forest in southeastern Idaho. The Targhee National Forest is next to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. The Forest is home to a diverse number of wildlife and fish, including threatened and endangered species. The lawsuit challenges the new forest plan's lack of protection for old growth forest and old growth forest dependent species such as grizzly bears, great gray owls, and goshawks.

The Targhee National Forest ("TNF") adopted its first forest plan in 1985, and was the first National Forest in the country to adopt a Revised Forest Plan ("RFP") in 1997.

"The Targhee National Forest eliminated the few rules they had to protect fish and wildlife in its new forest plan," said Sara Jane Johnson Ph.D. Dr. Johnson worked for the U.S. Forest Service, including the Targhee National Forest, for 14 years as a wildlife biologist. Dr. Johnson said, "The Forest Service would like to turn back the clock to the days when logging was king, and species concerns were only entitled to feel-good lip service."

Michael Garrity, Executive Director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies, said, "Government research has found that grizzly bears are more than 5 times more likely to die in roaded areas than in unroaded areas. This plan is not good for grizzly bears because grizzly bears can't hide in clearcuts. The Targhee National Forest goal is to manage for money losing clearcuts rather than wildlife."

"This Revised Forest Plan exemplifies the Bush administration's approach to managing national forests," stated Jeff Juel of the Ecology Center. "After repeatedly losing in court trying to ignore the original Forest Plan's old-growth protection requirements, the Targhee's Revised Forest Plan was written without any obligation to protect old growth, and with no recognition of the habitat and social values of these ancient forests."

Dr. Johnson believes that, "clearcutting in the Targhee National Forest has reduced old growth dependent species including the grizzly bear, gray wolf, wolverine, fisher, pine marten, lynx, and goshawk to isolated and fragmented populations."

Dr. Johnson said, "The issue of providing for the larger landscape needs of far-ranging forest carnivores reveals the need to utilize the principles of Conservation Biology on a landscape level. If we want the animals in Yellowstone Park to survive in the long run, linkages out of the Park with other core areas need to be established, providing sufficient habitat components so the linkages, or corridors, are functional for genetic interchange purposes."

"The Forest Service could create far more jobs by complying with the law and restoring these forests, rather than continuing to build roads and log in grizzly bear habitat," said Alliance for Wild Rockies executive director and economist Michael Garrity.

The groups are being represented by Forest Defense of Missoula. According to attorney Tom Woodbury, "This revised plan is shocking for its complete lack of scientific credibility. Even the Targhee's own wildlife expert warned them against adopting it, and once adopted, warned them against implementing it." Woodbury expects a hearing this summer on injunctive relief to protect species while the courts determine the plan's legality.

Websites with pictures of clearcuts on the Targhee N.F.


Informant: Earth First! Media


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Juli 2004

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