View of Swan Range
Winter Newsletter: A Time to Reflect!

Our Winter 2020 newsletter reports on the Forest Service's return to its road-building binge, how it is trashing our climate, what we are doing about it, and how the government is trying to use executive privilege to hide Flathead Forest planning documents from public and judicial review!

Below is our newsletter's table of contents. Click here to view or download it as a pdf.

A big THANK YOU to those of you who have made donations that support our continuing work!

Won't you join them and make a donation here?

Fish, wildlife and people are counting on us - and you!

This article published on February 09, 2020 • [Permalink]


Flathead NF Breaks Pledge to Maintain Grizzly Bear Habitat Security!

The revised Flathead Forest Plan pledged to maintain the on-the-ground grizzly bear habitat conditions that existed in 2011, in order to be consistent with the NCDE Grizzly Bear Conservation Strategy and plans to remove Endangered Species Act protections from NCDE grizzly bears.

Now the Flathead says it will not maintain those levels of habitat security as it increases human development of bear habitat - and claims it isn't required to do so under its revised (2018) Forest Plan!

Swan View Coalition, Friends of the Wild Swan, and Independent Wildlife Consultant Brian Peck summarize this about-face in their primary Objection to the Flathead's Hellroaring Basin Improvement's Project.

The Flathead admits the HBIP would reduce grizzly bear habitat security in Hellroaring Basin by constructing two new chairlifts, their service roads, new ski runs, and the thinning of forest hiding cover for glade skiing. The Flathead also admits that two mountain bike trails to be built in Hellroaring Basin, among the 28 miles being constructed under the already approved Taylor Hellroaring Project, will also displace bears from their habitat.

The Flathead nonetheless attempts to make it look like this is consistent with its pledge to maintain the level of 2011 grizzly bear habitat security, a 1995 requirement to maintain bear security in Hellroaring Basin on the south side of Big Mountain as Whitefish Mountain Resort was expanded to the north side of Big Mountain, and the revised Forest Plan’s condition to provide increased grizzly bear security in the Hellroaring watershed. It does so by saying it will maintain its 2011 baseline security parameters, but then intentionally not quantifying the additional displacement of bears and not measuring it against those parameters, making it appear the 2011 baseline is not being degraded.

The Objectors find this same "phony numbers" system is being applied to all projects being implemented under the revised Forest Plan, masking the on-the-ground impacts of scores of miles of new logging road construction, the construction of 80 miles of new mountain bike trails, and ski area developments like those in Hellroaring Basin. Objectors list five ways in which impacts to bears are not being included in, and hence limited by, the 2011 baseline security parameters:

1. Allowing unlimited miles of non-motorized trails to be constructed with no trail density standard - or 2011 Baseline parameter - to limit them.

2. Allowing unlimited miles of non-motorized “high-use” trails to exist in the Secure Core Baseline parameter by redefining the previous Plan's Amendment 19 “Security Core” in order to allow them to go undetected in the revised Plan’s “Secure Core.” “Security Core” did not allow such high-use trails.

3. Allowing an unlimited mileage of roads - by not including roads with the entrance simply rendered “impassable” to motor vehicles in Total Road Density, even though the road will be retained as a road and continue to contribute human impacts to grizzly bear habitat. This was not allowed under Amendment 19, which required that roads had to be reclaimed and no longer function as roads or trails, motorized or non-motorized, to be omitted from TRD.

4. By not including Special Use Permit roads that are on Forest Service land, and often simply closed by gates, in calculations of TRD. 

5. By allowing road construction and the relaxing of road closure types to diminish the amount of “security habitat” greater than 500 meters from roads simply because that habitat does not already remain in blocks of at least 2,500 acres. This is essentially a license to further fragment already fragmented habitats and further relegate security habitat to higher elevations rather than allow it to persist in critical lower elevations such as Hellroaring Basin.

Objectors ask for a new Environmental Impact Statement to look at the cumulative impacts of the many projects being implemented under the revised Forest Plan, the degradation of bear habitat and security going unaccounted for, and to reinstate the former Plan's Amendment 19 with modifications to insure that it does not allow impacts to bears to go unaccounted for.

The details of the Flathead's admissions are summarized in Objectors' primary Objection and in the Flathead's Project File Exhibits it references.

Click here for our primary Objection to the Hellroaring Basin Improvements Project.

Click here and scroll down for links to the various Project File Exhibits referenced in our primary Objection.

Click here for our supplemental Objection to the Hellroaring Basin Improvements Project (detailing inconsistencies with the Forest Plan and the National Environmental Policy Act).

Click here for our Objection press release.

Click here for the resulting Missoula Current news article.

Click here for the Flathead's Hellroaring Basin, Taylor Hellroaring, and other project documents.


(Read Full Article)

This article published on January 09, 2020 • [Permalink]


Your Comments on Commercial Round Meadow Shuttle and Guide Service Needed Now!

Your comments on permitting a commercial shuttle and ski/snowshoe guide service on the Flathead NF's Round Meadow Winter Trails are due Dec 22!

The Flathead has failed to make adequate public announcement about this proposed commercial permit.

But the Flathead is accepting public comment through December 22 and here is what we've learned from Tally Lake District Ranger Bill Mulholland:

1. Whitefish Shuttle Livery and Guiding requested this permit on October 1, but the Flathead is just now getting around to asking some members of the public what they think of the idea.

2. The permit would run from December 23, 2019 through April 1, 2020, and would allow a maximum of 200 clients to be dropped off at and/or be guided on the groomed trail system.

3. Only one shuttle or guided trip would be allowed each day. "This could equate to approximately 3-4 visitors a day at Round Meadows."

4. "Currently parking at the trailhead is limited during peak use times."

5. Ranger Mulholland did not indicate whether clients can drive themselves to the trailhead and be guided from there or whether they must use the shuttle service.

6. Ranger Mulholland declined to notify the press of this proposal.

If you have thoughts or concerns about this proposal, please email them to comments-northern-flathead-tally-lake@usda.gov or phone Julie Gerrior at 406-758-3542.

You may also want to let the Flathead know you want everyone to have more than a few days notice to comment on proposals that may affect their National Forest!

Click here to read Swan View Coalition's comments.

Click here for Ranger Mulholland's skimpy public notice packet.

This article published on December 20, 2019 • [Permalink]


Patagonia Will Match/Double Your Donation to Swan View Coalition!

UPDATE 12/16/19: Patagonia has now met its pledge to match $10 million in donations to participating organizations! If you still wish to make a year-end donation on-line to Swan View Coalition, please click on the Donate Now button on this web page.

THANK YOU to those of you that donated nearly $4,000 to support our work via Patagonia Action Works in the first half of December - and THANK YOU to Patagonia for matching those donations!

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Patagonia will match/double your donation to support the work of Swan View Coalition if you donate now!

Patagonia has pledged to match up to $10 million in donations to participating organizations through December 31, but has already matched $6 million!

So donate now via our Patagonia Action Works page if you want Patagonia to match/double your donation!

Your generosity enables us to keep America's roadless areas roadless, keep America's remaining old-growth forests standing, and promote ecosystem restoration through limits on off-road vehicles and the reclamation of excessive logging roads!

THANK YOU for your support of our work!

This article published on December 12, 2019 • [Permalink]


Holidays Newsletter: Seeds of Hope in Dark Times!

Our Holidays 2019 newsletter takes a look at what each of us can do to minimize our consumption of natural resources and to minimize our disruption of wildlife when recreating!

It is intended to help us engage in sustainable re-creation rather than unsustainable wreck-creation.

It also announces that Patagonia will match donations made here to Swan View Coalition from Nov 29 through Dec 31!

Below is our newsletter's table of contents. Click here to view or download it as a pdf.

A big THANK YOU to those of you who have made donations that support our continuing work!

Won't you join them and make a donation here between Nov 29 and Dec 31 so it will be matched/double by Patagonia?

Fish, wildlife and people are counting on us - and you!

 

This article published on November 29, 2019 • [Permalink]


Newsletter: Public Voice Being Silenced on Public Land Issues!

Our Summer-Fall 2019 newsletter reports on how the broader public voice is being sidelined as the Forest Service pursues new regulations, collaboration and public-private partnerships to more quickly serve private interests!

It also reports on how this is resulting in even greater promotion of both logging and unsustainable recreational development on the Flathead National Forest in particular.

Below is our newsletter's table of contents. Click here to view or download it as a pdf.

A big THANK YOU to those of you who have made donations that support our continuing work!

Won't you join them and DONATE NOW? If you do so soon, Cinnabar Foundation will match/double your donation!

Fish, wildlife and people are counting on us - and you!

This article published on October 06, 2019 • [Permalink]


Your Prompt Donation Matched by Cinnabar Foundation!

Your prompt donation to support our work will be matched/doubled by Cinnabar Foundation!

Be among the first $4,000 in donations and your donation will explode like the fireweed seed shown here!

This is Cinnabar's way of making your donation go even further in helping us keep America's roadless areas roadless, keeping its old-growth forest standing, and restoring its damaged ecosystems through limits on off-road vehicles and the reclamation of excessive roads!

Simply CLICK HERE TO DONATE or send a check to Swan View Coalition at 3165 Foothill Road, Kalispell, MT 59901!

THANK YOU for your support of our work and for helping us meet Cinnabar's $4,000 challenge/matching grant!

This article published on September 22, 2019 • [Permalink]


Bear Expert Opposes Trail-Running Permits, Forest Supervisor Objects!

(updated 7/1/19 and 10/21/19)

Dr. Chris Servheen says he opposes the issuance of Special Use Permits for ultra-marathon trail-running races in bear habitat and wants permits for mountain bike guiding to comply with interagency recommendations for minimizing bear-human conflicts.

His comments were submitted to the Flathead National Forest during a public comment period on several such permits.

Dr. Servheen was Chair of the Board of Review investigating the death of Brad Treat when he slammed into a grizzly bear while mountain biking at high speed on the Flathead NF.

The Board of Review, which included two Flathead NF staff, recommends that people not run or bike fast in bear habitat. The BOR based its recommendations on numerous instances of people and bears being injured or killed due to surprise encounters during running and biking.

Dr. Servheen wrote "Issuing such permits will send the public a very conflicting message about how to recreate in bear habitat and send a bad message about the veracity of agency advice about how to recreate safely where there are bears . . . doing so will contradict years of agency educational efforts."

Flathead Forest Supervisor Chip Weber objected to the recommendations of the BOR at the June 25 meeting of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee and in an opinion piece to newspapers. He falsely claims that trail running and fast mountain biking are no more likely to cause a human-bear encounter than walking or hiking.

News accounts and Swan View's response to Weber note that the BOR cites substantial research in support of its findings and recommendations.

Click here to read the Daily Inter Lake article "Bear Expert Opposes Permits for Running Events."

Click here for Dr. Servheen's comments.

Click here for the Board of Review Recommendations.

Click here for MT Dept. of Fish Wildlife and Parks' findings: "Increased speed can increase the likelihood of surprising a bear at close range. Even during planned events with numerous participants, negative encounters including fatalities, can and have occurred."

Click here for MTPR's story on the IGBC meeting.

Click here for the Missoulian article about Supervisor Weber's objections.

Click here for Supervisor Weber's guest opinion.

Click here for Swan View Coalition's letter to editors in response to Weber's objections.

Click here for "When Cyclists Collide with Bears," an excellent summary of bike-bear collisions and the research showing fast travel results in increased risk of surprise encounters between people and bears!

Click here for "Who Owns the Wild: Grizzlies or Humans? The fight to balance recreation with wildlife is coming to a head."

Click here for Swan View's press release expressing disappointment in the approval of the Whitefish Legacy Partners and Foys to Blacktail trail marathon permits and the dangerous precedent they set on the Flathead NF.

Click here for more background on this issue.

This article published on June 25, 2019 • [Permalink]


Help Stop Promotion of Irresponsible Recreation Now!

Tell the Flathead NF today to not issue Special Use Permits for irresponsible recreation! It only taks a couple minutes.

The Flathead has asked the public to comment on four Special Use Permits (SUPs), two of which are for trail-running races that have caused injury and/or death to runners and bears!

Here's what we wrote to the Flathead today. We urge you to consider making similar points in a quick email:

The Board of Review (BOR) reports on the death of Brad Treat when he slammed into a grizzly bear while mountain biking at high speed must be regarded as the best available science and expert advice for reducing surprise encounters between people and bears:

"Don’t Run - jogging in bear country increases the odds of surprise encounters at close distances and surprised bears are more likely to be aggressive.

Slow Down [when mountain biking]- Encounters with bears are much more likely to occur when riding at high speed. Surprised bears are more likely to be defensive and to cause injury to bike riders."

- Do not issue the Whitefish Trails and Foys to Blacktail ultra-marathon SUPs. To do so amounts to a Forest Service endorsement of the commercial promotion of irresponsible behavior in bear habitat and runs contrary to the BOR recommendations that the Forest Service is party to. The public education intended by the BOR will essentially be nullified by the commercialization and expansiveness of the irresponsible behavior endorsed in such SUPs!

- Issue the Whitefish Shuttle and Guiding SUP only if the business is willing and required to abide by and distribute the BOR recommendations to its passengers and clients. These materials should be developed by the Forest Service and approved by the BOR, insuring that permittees are positive ambassadors for human-bear safety.

- We see no red flags for the more modest Journey to Wellness Program SUP, provided the permitted activities are indeed hikes and not trail running. This SUP offers another opportunity for the permittee to abide by and distribute the BOR recommendations.

To make it simple, send a single or the same email to these two email addresses:

comments-northern-flathead-tally-lake@fs.fed.us and comments-northern-flathead-swan-lake@fs.fed.us

Click here to read our full letter to the Flathead.

Click here to read the Flathead's invitation for public comments and background info.

Your quick email will help promote responsible recreation on our public lands and help avert 100- and 200-person trail running races that promote just the opposite!

Thanks for helping! Comments are due June 19!

Click here to read the Daily Inter Lake article "Bear Expert Opposes Permits for Running Events" and click here for the comments submitted by Dr. Chris Servheen, former Grizzly Bear Recovery Coordinator for USFWS.

Click here to read the Missoulian article on our efforts.

Click here to read the Missoula Current article on our efforts.

This article published on June 13, 2019 • [Permalink]


Newsletter: Revised Flathead Plan Ushers in Lawlessness!

Our Winter-Spring 2019 newsletter reports on how the revised Flathead Forest Plan is ushering in lawlessness - and why we are suing over it!

It also reports on how collaboration and public-private partnerships are over-promoting recreational developments and activities of great risk to people and wildlife, using the southern Whitefish Range as just one example!

Below is our newsletter's table of contents. Click here to view or download it as a pdf.

A big THANK YOU to those who have made donations that support our continuing work!

Won't you join them and DONATE NOW?

Fish, wildlife and people are counting on us - and you!

This article published on May 30, 2019 • [Permalink]


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Logging Road Landslide
Logging road landslide into Sullivan Creek bull trout habitat! Keith Hammer photo.

What's New
Join Us for Our 40th Anniversary Potluck and Gathering! May 21, 2024

We hope you can come join us for our 40th Anniversary potluck and gathering on June 9 at the Creston Fish Hatchery pavilion on the shore of Jessup Mill Pond! There will be cake and we get to eat it too!

Winter-Spring Newsletter: Swan View Celebrates 40 Years! April 24, 2024

Our Winter-Spring newsletter celebrates our 40th anniversary with news of recent victories, a look at what we've accomplished in 40 years, a reminder of the work that still lies ahead, and an invitation to our celebratory outdoor potluck and gathering on June 9!

Happy Solstice, Holidays and New Year! December 20, 2023

Swan View Coalition wishes you a Happy Solstice, Holidays and New Year, and has a gift suggestion!

Holidays Newsletter: Things to Celebrate in 2023! December 07, 2023

Our Holidays newsletter announces wolverine are finally given ESA protection, an ESA recovery plan is drafted for lynx, there are promising signs for the management of Krause Basin, and POWDR Corp has withdrawn its plans to super-size Holland Lake Lodge, but reminds us of huge "fuels reduction" logging projects on the horizon!

Summer-Fall Newsletter: Pushing Back Against All Odds! October 12, 2023

Our Summer-Fall newsletter announces the release of our latest Forest Service road closure effectiveness report, describes how the Forest Service is keeping the public in the dark while permitting private corporations to conduct business on public lands, provides graphic proof that "thinning" as "restoration" logging amounts to more clearcuts, and calls on the public to carry and learn to use bear spray when outdoors!

Swan View Report Shows Road Closure Effectiveness Far Lower than Forest Service Claims! September 12, 2023

Swan View Coalition recently released a report based on its 2022 inspection of 303 Forest Service road closure devices in the Flathead National Forest’s Swan Valley Geographic Area. The group found only 53% of the gates, berms and boulders showed no signs of motor vehicle use behind them. When adjusted to account for Forest Service exceptions allowing administrative and logging contractor use behind closures, effectiveness rose to only 68%, far short of the 92% effectiveness claimed by the Flathead NF for 2019-2020.

Your Prompt Donation Matched by Cinnabar Foundation! August 02, 2023

Your prompt donation to support our work will be matched/doubled by Cinnabar Foundation!

Help Push Back on the Commercialization of the Flathead National Forest! May 23, 2023

Your email is needed today to push back on 25 commercial Special Use Permits being issued on the Flathead National Forest!

Winter Spring Newsletter: Government and Industry Set to Log it All! April 17, 2023

Our Winter-Spring newsletter asks you to send a quick email to help stop DNRC from logging the last of its hemlock forests in Krause Basin, then shows how DNRC's proposal aligns with federal proposals that also promote logging to "restore" forests to false "historic" conditions. We provide links to a growing body of research revealing a "falsification of the scientific record in government-funded wildfire studies" that are being used to promote the logging of native forests.

Help Stop DNRC Logging in Krause Basin Today! April 12, 2023

MT DNRC intends to log more of what little native hemlock forest it hasn't logged already in Krause Basin! Please help us stop this phony "forest restoration" now!

Double Your Donation Now! March 23, 2023

Wake up! A generous donor has agreed to match $5,000 in donations to Swan View Coalition! So DONATE NOW and see your donation doubled!

Holidays Newsletter: Learning from Our Past and Moving Forward! November 30, 2022

Our Holidays 2022 newsletter looks at how recreation gets out of control on public lands and what we can do about it. It also provides a brief summary of our work in 2022 and why your membership is important!

Giving Thanks! November 23, 2022

This Thanksgiving we are thankful to have public lands worth protecting and your support of our work to do so!

Summer-Fall Newsletter: Plunder Blunders! October 17, 2022

Our Summer-Fall 2022 newsletter examines two major public relations blunders by the Flathead National Forest as it attempts to force recreational development on a public that is tired of seeing its public lands turned into playgrounds for the rich and racy! We also announce the resumption of our biweekly Swan Range Community Potlucks and Music Jam Sessions - and our Annual Membership Meeting to be held November 20.

Insist Now on Full Public Review of Holland Lake Lodge Mega-Expansion! September 06, 2022

The Flathead National Forest is attempting to approve a mega-expansion of the Holland Lake Lodge on public land without informed public input and with no Environmental Assessment or Impact Statement. Tell the Flathead NOW to back up and start again!

Second Round of Flathead Forest Plan Lawsuits Filed! August 11, 2022

Swan View Coalition and Friends of the Wild Swan are in the process of filing three new lawsuits against the revised Flathead Forest Plan's building of logging roads in threatened grizzly bear and bull trout habitat!

Winter-Spring Newsletter: To Wonder or Plunder? May 13, 2022

Our Winter-Spring 2022 newsletter takes a sobering look at how, contrary to the way forest ecosystems function and the need to keep carbon stored in trees to combat climate warming, the government and industry instead want to log/thin all the forests they can get their hands on while building all the more logging roads to get it done!

Help Stop Commercial Crowding of the Flathead National Forest! May 10, 2022

Your comments are needed to object to commercial permits that promote crowding of the Flathead National Forest!

FS Cannot Seek Consensus from Krause Basin Collaborative February 13, 2022

The Forest Service cannot ask the Krause Basin Collaborative for group/consensus recommendations, only individual advice.

Forest Service Reneging on Promises to Prohibit Motorized Trails in Krause Basin! December 13, 2021

This page documents promises made by the Flathead National Forest to close all trails in Krause Basin to motorized use after designating it a Wildlife Management Area and mandating that the trails "not be marked on the ground."