View of Swan Range
Groups Put Forest Service on Notice: Logging Roads Trashing Bull Trout Habitat, Will File Lawsuit
Nokio Creek culvert blowout - Flathead NF photo.

Swan View Coalition, Friends of the Wild Swan and WildEarth Guardians put the Flathead National Forest on notice they will file suit over logging road impacts to bull trout.

Below is the press release with links to the Notice of Intent to File Suit and Keith Hammer's "Roads to Ruin" report providing photos and background on the failure of the Flathead NF to adequately inspect and maintain its logging roads and culverts.

Click here for the resulting KAJ-TV coverage using photos like the one above.

Click here for the resulting Daily Inter Lake news article by Patrick Reilly.

Click here to read our rebuttal to the Flathead Forest Supervisor's claim that there are no "impaired" watersheds on his Forest due to proactive management.

Click here for the resulting Missoulian news article by Perry Backus.

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Failures in Road Management Place Bull Trout at Risk

Conservation Groups Send Notice of Intent to File Suit to Flathead National Forest

November 16, 2017

 

Contacts:

Marla Fox, WildEarth Guardians, 651-434-7737, mfox@wildearthguardians.org

Keith Hammer, Swan View Coalition, 406-755-1379, keith@swanview.org

Arlene Montgomery, Friends of the Wild Swan, 406-886-2011, arlene@wildswan.org

 

Kalispell, MT – Yesterday three conservation groups warned the Forest Service of their intent to file suit under the Endangered Species Act in order to protect threatened bull trout and its critical habitat. The Forest Service’s inadequate management and monitoring of logging roads on the Flathead National Forest in northwest Montana threatens to degrade bull trout streams by increasing the risk of culvert failure, leading to road washouts that smother streams in road sediment, destroy fish eggs and prevent young fish from growing.

The notice letter outlines the Forest Service’s failure to comply with numerous biological opinions written by the Fish and Wildlife Service during the past fifteen years. These biological opinions directed the Forest Service to remove stream-aligned culverts from closed logging roads—or, alternatively, to monitor them annually to insure they do not plug. Plugged culverts are prone to fail over time due to accumulation of dirt and debris in the small openings. A plugged culvert is likely to blow out during a rain or snowmelt event, depositing sediment into bull trout streams.

Though the Forest Service has largely failed to follow either of the Fish and Wildlife Service directives, records show it is aware that far more culverts are failing or are at high risk of failing than initially thought, and that failing roads and culverts put the bull trout and its habitat in peril.

In addition to its history of inadequate road management, the Forest Service proposed to relax culvert monitoring from annual monitoring to monitoring once every six years. Best science and a history of culvert failures on the Flathead and other national forests do not support such a move: culverts can plug and blow out in a single season if not inspected and cleaned.

Swan View Coalition Chair Keith Hammer has spent the last couple of years requesting the Flathead’s annual culvert monitoring reports. “The Flathead has failed pretty much across the board to conduct annual culvert monitoring,” he said. “The monitoring it has done shows that up to two-thirds of the culverts inspected are at high risk of failure. Rather than dedicate the funding and staff to do the inspections and either fix or remove the culverts, the Flathead is looking to eliminate the requirement for annual inspections.”

“Our native fish require cold, clean water to spawn and rear,” said Arlene Montgomery of Friends of the Wild Swan. “Unmaintained culverts are like ticking time bombs in our streams; when they plug up and blow out they dump tons of sediment into spawning gravels, impacting reproduction and growth of fish. By ignoring the required monitoring the Flathead is endangering our water quality and fish habitat.”

“We hope the Fish and Wildlife Service rejects the Forest Service’s attempt to move the goal posts by abandoning annual culvert inspections,” said Marla Fox of WildEarth Guardians. “Rewarding poor performance with lower expectations would set a horrible precedent for other forests to bypass legally required protections that the Service determined necessary for bull trout survival and recovery.”

Background:

The notice letter cites to agency documents showing that agency assumptions that only 10-15% of culverts were at high risk of failing were replaced with findings of 35-40% and as high as 67% of culverts at high risk of failing. Notice, page 14.

The letter also cites to documents acknowledging 22 culverts had failed on the roads that had been inspected and that more failures were expected. Notice at 12-13.

This article published on November 17, 2017 • [Permalink]


Special Issue: Logging v. Fire

Our Fall 2017 newsletter uses illustrations and science to debunk the "logging prevents wildfire" myth, describing how we can protect our homes while letting fire play its essential role in forest ecosystems!

Please check out our newsletter and, if you DONATE NOW to support our work, it will be doubled by Cinnabar Foundation!

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

We hope you enjoy the newsletter and will join others in supporting our work!

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

This article published on October 03, 2017 • [Permalink]


Help Keep Hiking Trails from Becoming Mountain Bike Freeways!
Flathead NF and Hungry Horse News/Daily InterLake photos

Your quick email is needed today to keep Flathead hiking trails from being turned into freeways for mountain bikes!

When Brad Treat was killed after slamming into a grizzly bear at high speed on his mountain bike, an interagency Board of Review urged agencies to assess the reasonableness of allowing mountain bike access in grizzly bear habitat. It recommended agencies determine whether vegetation allows adequate sight distances along trails before allowing mountain bikes on them.

The Flathead National Forest has stood this on its head and is instead proposing to create 50-meter sight distances along trails and trail tread widths of up to 4 feet so mountain bikes can be accommodated.

And a local mountain bike club of course wants to help!

This will turn intimate hiking and horseback riding trails into ugly wide swaths through the woods and only encourage faster mountain bike speeds!

Please send a quick email by August 13 to Hungry Horse Ranger District at comments-northern-flathead-hungry-horse-glacier-view@fs.fed.us !

Put "Hungry Lion Project" in the subject line and insist the Forest Service:

1. Not allow mountain bikes on the hiker and horseback trails illegally modified by mountain bikers in the Hungry Lion area!

2. Not allow the widening and straightening of trails for mountain bikes, ruining enjoyment of them by hikers and horseback riders!

3. Require mountain bikers to slow down rather than expect wider trails!

The Flathead is about to re-create hiking and horseback trails in the image of mountain bikers. ONLY YOU CAN STOP THIS!

Please dash off a quick email TODAY! Hikers, horseback riders and wildlife will appreciate it.

Click here for more background on this issue and the Hungry Lion Project.

This article published on August 10, 2017 • [Permalink]


Delay on the Flathead National Forest: For Better or Worse?

Our Summer 2017 newsletter takes a quick look at delay in release of the Revised Flathead Forest Plan and two Swan Valley timber sales, in light of persistent efforts by the Flathead to weaken protections for threatened bull trout and grizzly bear, noting local communities are getting fed up with the roads, weeds and ATVs that follow logging!

Please check out our newsletter and if you DONATE NOW to support our work, it will be doubled by Cinnabar Foundation!

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

We hope you enjoy the newsletter and will join others in supporting our work!

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

This article published on July 05, 2017 • [Permalink]


NREPA Introduced in U.S. House and Senate!

The Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act has been introduced in the U.S. House and Senate! Urge your Senators and Representatives to support NREPA today!

That's right, there are companion bills in Congress right now that you can get behind to protect 23 million acres of America's public lands in the Northern Rockies as Wilderness!       Unprotected Northern Swan Crest

Let's send a clear message to this Congress that we want more wilderness and more wildlife, not less!

Click here to find the email address or contact form for your U.S. Representatives.

Click here to find the email address or contact form for your U.S. Senators.

Ask them to:

Please support or co-sponsor the NREPA bills of Representatives Maloney and Grijalva (H.R. 2135) and Senator Whitehouse (S. 936) because they:

1. Designate 23 million acres of America's most beautiful and ecologically critical public lands as Wilderness in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Oregon, and Washington!

2. Designate 1,800 miles of outstanding streams and rivers as Wild and Scenic!

3. Create more than 2,300 jobs in rural communities restoring fish and wildlife habitat on public lands damaged by logging and road building!

4. Save American taxpayers $245 million over ten years by eliminating the subsizided industrial development of roadless lands that would instead be protected as Wilderness!

Please enjoy the 5 minutes it takes to support this bold, preeminent legislation!

For maps and more details about NREPA, visit www.saveamericasforests.org/NREPA/index.html.

THANK YOU!

This article published on May 03, 2017 • [Permalink]


Help Wildlife Survive Near Whitefish Today!


Your quick email is needed TODAY to stop logging and the building of another 45 miles of roads and trails in threatened wildlife habitat near Whitefish, MT!

The Flathead National Forest's south end of the Whitefish Range provides habitat for threatened grizzly bear, lynx, wolverine, fisher, deer, elk, and more. Yet the Flathead is proposing a "collaborative-based" project to harm visual quality with logging, construct 40 more miles of trail for mountain bikes, etc., and build 5 more miles of permanent logging roads.

This, even though the Flathead admits the area is already so full of roads and trails it has no grizzly bear Security Core left. The Flathead is lying when it claims all this development will maintain and improve wildlife habitat and security - it will do the opposite!

We need your help protecting wildlife habitat from this development proposal today. Please send a quick email TODAY to comments-northern-flathead-tally-lake@fs.fed.us and consider making the following points:

1. Do not build more trails in the area. The area around Whitefish and the Whitefish Mountain Resort already provide plenty of mountain biking access. Linking all these trails together with more trails is a sure recipe for conflicts between people and wildlife that are too often fatal!

2. Do not build more roads in the area. Instead, decommission some of the old logging roads to provide security for grizzly bear and other wildlife.

3. Do not violate your own Forest Plan standards for protecting visual quality, as your proposal says your logging will do.

4. Collaboration like this does not foster "strong, more united communities," as claimed by MWA's Amy Robinson and Flathead Area Mountain Bikers' Noah Bodman, when wildlife is not duly considered a part of that community. It looks instead like this was a greedy shopping spree in our National Forest!

Comments are due this Friday, April 28!

For more details, see pages 4-5 of Swan View's letter regarding Taylor Hellroaring.

Click here for the Flathead's full proposal and maps.

THANK YOU for taking a few minutes to speak up for wildlife!

This article published on April 24, 2017 • [Permalink]


Technology, Commerce and the Politics of Denial!

Our Winter-Spring 2017 newsletter announces two reports on the bike-bear death of Brad Treat, examines the role irresponsible commerce plays in the devaluation of the public good, reports on how public-private partnerships help privatize public lands, and urges people to resist the hype in order to re-create a sustainable relationship to the earth!

Please check out our newsletter and DONATE NOW to support our work!

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

We hope you enjoy the newsletter and will join others in supporting our work!

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

This article published on March 24, 2017 • [Permalink]


Stop the Takeover of National Forest Lands in the Swan Valley Now!

Your email is needed today to stop the takeover of National Forest lands in the Swan Valley by Lake County!

UPDATED February 6, 2017:

Jim Simpson of the Lake County Conservation District is trying to ignore the majority against him and listen only to those who own land in Lake County and support his effort to take over 60,000 acres of the Flathead National Forest. He wants more public comment, so let's give it to him!

Please see the MT NPR artice at http://mtpr.org/post/silent-majority-state-management-federal-lands or the suggested email content below, then send an email to the Lake County Conservation District at lakecountycd@ronan.net!

Even if you wrote in back in December, please do so again! Here's suggested content for your email:

Dear Mr. Simpson and Lake County Conservation District Board;

As an American taxpayer, I am co-owner of the Flathead National Forest - 60,000 acres of which you want to seize control of, log and rob the profits from! I am adamantly opposed to your idea!

You’ve already received 149 comments that, according to National Public Radio and in your own words “quite honestly right now are heavily opponent comments, opposed to the concept.” You’ve already wasted $40,000 in public funds pushing your idea, funds that could have been put to good use funding Lake County conservation projects instead.

Now you say you still want to find the “silent majority” in favor of your proposal. Well, you can’t arrive at a silent majority by dismissing the comments of everyone that disagrees with you or doesn’t live in Lake County, Montana.

As an American taxpayer, I co-own the NATIONAL Forest lands in Lake County and I’m telling you to kindly get your hands off of them! They do not belong to Lake County, nor do you have the right to seize control of them and the profits you’d like to reap by logging them without regard for federal environmental protections.

Please consider me among the majority OPPOSED to your proposal, which includes a couple of our own board members!

Sincerely,

-------------------------------------

December alert and background, below:

The Lake County Conservation District wants to take over management of 60,000 acres of the Flathead National Forest in the Swan Valley so it can log them. Lake County wants to try and make more money logging than it already gets in payments from the Forest Service to Lake County.

Thankfully, not all members of the Lake County Conservation District agree. LCCD Supervisors Curt Rosman, Susan Gardner and Toni Burton recently wrote "Enough time and money have been spent on this dead end proposal. It is time to let it die and concentrate on our current responsibilities." Read their full dissent here.

Please send a quick email today to the LCCD at lakecountycd@ronan.net . Tell them you agree with Rosman, Garner and Burton that this idea should be dealt a quick death. Tell them these are federal lands belonging to all Americans, not lands at the disposal of Lake County.

Please send that same message to the Lake County Commissioners at lakecommissioners@lakemt.gov !

And, if you really want to drive the message home, attend the LCCD's meeting at the Swan Lake Community Center in Swan Lake at 6:30pm, December 7th!

According to Lake County "Your feedback will help the LCCD decide if the study should be terminated or if LCCD should ask Montana's Congressional delegation to create legislation establishing a [State run] Conservation Forest in the Swan Valley on federal forest lands [to benefit Lake County].

For more information on this really bad idea, visit http://swanforestinitiative.org .

Thank you for taking a few crucial moments to put an end to this really bad idea and precedent!

This article published on February 06, 2017 • [Permalink]


Happy New Year and Last Call 2016!
Cottonwood Bottom, Krause Basin, Swan Range, 12/28/16

Swan View Coalition wishes you a Happy New Year and issues a last call for 2016 support!

Thank You to those of you that have supported our work in the past and those who would like to do so in the closing few days of 2016!

Please DONATE NOW to help us secure quiet habitats for fish, wildlife and people! In 2016 we:

-Helped coordinate overwhelming public support for more wilderness and more watershed restoration in the Flathead Forest Plan!

-Worked with a Swan Valley collaborative to decommission 26 miles of damaging logging roads in Jim and Cold Creeks!

-Filed a lawsuit to decommission more roads to meet Forest Plan standards and get Jim Creek off the list of "impaired watersheds!"

-Filed notice for a similar lawsuit in Coal Creek, another "impaired" critical bull trout watershed, where the Flathead left culverts to blow out in a long-abandoned logging road!

Our work is funded primarily by people like you, not big foundations!

Won't you please join others in supporting our work and help us prepare for the challenges of 2017?

Thank you and Happy New Year!

This article published on December 29, 2016 • [Permalink]


Happy Solstice, Holidays and New Year!

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

May you find yourself in the company of good friends, good shelter and good food!

Thank you for your support of our work in 2016!

Keith Hammer

This article published on December 21, 2016 • [Permalink]


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

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