ENDANGERED SPECIES — A few rebel snowmobilers helped write a restrictive sentence for Selkirk Mountains snowmobilers with the tracks they left along the Selkirk Crest in the early 2000s.
Warned to stay away from areas protected for the survival of the last remaining woodland caribou herd venturing into the Lower 48 states, they kept coming, defiantly.
Several conservation groups took to the air, photographed the snowmobile tracks in proximity to wintering caribou areas, and made their case to a federal court, getting an injunction on snowmobiling on a larger area of the crest in 2005 and a court ruling in their favor in 2007.
The closure continues this winter as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Idaho Panhandle National Forests continue to work through the science, lawsuits, budget woes and other issues related to managing on-snow motorized recreation with wildlife protection. (See my Thursday outdoors column.)
Following are links to maps, documents and background stories related to caribou and snowmobiling in the Selkirk Mountains:
2012-2013 map and Snowmobile Guide for Priest Lake, Bonners Ferry and Sandpoint Ranger Districts. The dark purple areas are closed to snowmobiling, with the exception of specific marked routes, because of the 2005 court injunction.
Critical habitat designated for Selkirk woodland caribou, US FWS media release, Nov. 27, 2012
Bonner County files petition to delist caribou, S-R, May 10, 2012
Public land decisions run into roadblocks, S-R, Feb. 26, 2012
Caribou face precarious prognosis, S-R, Feb. 26, 2012
Caribou protection worries officials, S-R, Dec. 21, 2011
Plan designates land for Selkirk caribou, S-R, Nov. 30, 2011
Agencies increase snowmobile protections for caribou, S-R, Dec. 3, 2010
Lawsuit filed to protect caribou, S-R, Jan. 17, 2009
British Columbia announces caribou plan, S-R, Oct. 18, 2007
U.S. Forest Service crafting caribou plan, March 20, 2007
Caribou buffer zone in Selkirks expanded, S-R, Feb. 28, 2007
Snowmobiles and caribou: Tense trail mix in the Selkirks, S-R, Dec. 17, 2006
British Columbia to transplant more caribou, S-R, Dec. 6 2006
Snowmobilers lose access in court case, S-R, Sept. 26, 2006
Ungroomed ghost town, S-R, Jan. 29, 2006
Group wants snowmobiling halted through caribou land, S-R, Dec. 6, 2005
Caribou numbers desperate, S-R, Nov. 30, 2005
Canada might abandon caribou recovery, Oct. 29, 2005
Opinion: Caribou lawsuit forced by agency inaction, S-R, Sept. 3, 2005
More snowmobiling restrictions advocated, S-R, Dec. 14, 2004
Caribou facing uphill battle to survive, S-R, July 2, 1997
Caribou transplants survival low, but inching to success, S-R, March 3, 1996
Rare caribou dwindline to 13 in Idaho, S-R, Sept. 3, 1995
More caribou habitat off-limits to snowmobilers, S-R, Jan. 3, 1995