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Sat., Dec. 17, 2011, 6:20 a.m.

Bonner County mulls options to challenge Selkirk caribou habitat protection

This 2005 photo  shows part of the southern Selkirk caribou herd moving north through the Selkirk Mountains about three miles north of the Washington border.  (File Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
This 2005 photo shows part of the southern Selkirk caribou herd moving north through the Selkirk Mountains about three miles north of the Washington border. (File Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)

ENDANGERED SPECIES -- Bonner County commissioners may challenge a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service proposal to designated 375,562 acres as critical habitat for endangered woodland caribou in the southern Selkirk Mountains.

The issue is on the meeting agenda for Tuesday, when the commissioners may discuss invoking a federal rule that requires agencies to coordinate with local officials on land use matters, according to a report in the Sandpoint Daily Bee on Friday.

“We have a dog in this fight and we have tools that have never been used before,” Commission Chairman Cornel Rasor told the newspaper.

The FWS estimates about 45 woodland caribou exist in the southern Selkirks.

The proposal to protect habitat is chilling to businesses at Priest Lake, where residents a few years ago were rocked by Forest Service restrictions on snowmobile entry into the Selkirk caribou recovery zone.

Bonner County Commissioners already have established a Property Rights Council that is challenging federal Environmental Protection Agency standards on developing wetlands around Priest Lake, as detailed in this report by the Boise Weekly




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Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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