Forest Service signs Griz Record of Decision
Six National Forests sign off on the ROD
by Bridger-Teton National Forest
May 8, 2006
The forest supervisors of the six national forests within the Greater Yellowstone Area signed the Record of Decision to incorporate grizzly bear habitat standards into forest plans. The national forests affected by the decision are the Beaverhead-Deerlodge, Custer, and Gallatin National Forests in Montana, the Caribou-Targhee National Forest in Idaho, and the Bridger-Teton and Shoshone National Forests in Wyoming.
The amendment requires that habitat standards from the Grizzly Bear Conservation Strategy be incorporated into long-term management of the forests. The completion of the amendment is an important and necessary step in delisting the recovered population of the Yellowstone grizzly bear.
"This amendment gives management a clear direction to protect the habitat for the bear that we will roll right over into our Forest Plan Revision," said Forest Supervisor Kniffy Hamilton.
These habitat standards will result in very little management change from what is currently occurring on national forests within the grizzly bear recovery zone. The forests will continue emphasizing the use of safe practices in bear country. This includes installation of food storage equipment such as bear resistant containers in campgrounds, meat poles at popular hunting camps, and bear resistant garbage containers. As in the past, monitoring of habitat conditions and public information and education will be ongoing.
Hamilton said, "The implementation of the Grizzly Bear Conservation Strategy ensures proper management of the grizzly bear habitat, and the Bridger-Tetonís commitment to education and monitoring efforts outside of the Primary Conservation Area ensures that the Conservation Strategy will be used to guide our management decisions forest-wide."
In 1975, the grizzly bear population in the Greater Yellowstone Area was less than 200 and largely confined to Yellowstone National Park. Concerned about their future, the US Fish and Wildlife Service listed the species as threatened, placing it under federal protection under the Endangered Species Act. Today, biologists estimate the population has increased to between 500 and 600 animals, many of which make their homes on the six national forests surrounding Yellowstone. The increase in numbers and in habitat occupied by these amazing animals is the result of decades of state and federal agency cooperation and effort.
The increase in Greater Yellowstone Area grizzly bear numbers and occupied habitat has led Forest Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Park Service biologists to agree that the time is right to evaluate whether grizzly bears should remain on the list of threatened species. Removing the Yellowstone grizzly bear from the list is the responsibility of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, which has already started the process.
Beginning May 12, the Record of Decision and Final Environmental Impact Statement will be available at http://www.fs.fed.us/r1/wildlife/igbc/Subcommittee/yes/YEamend/gb_internet.htm