October 16, 1997 in Idaho

Forest Official Rejects Roads In Grizzly Area

Idaho Falls Post-Register

Environmentalists fighting development of two roads into private lands in grizzly bear habitat east of Ashton have won an appeal from the U.S. Forest Service.

The decision by Deputy Regional Forester Jack Blackwell overturns Targhee National Forest Supervisor Jerry Reese’s decision to grant easements for two gravel roads across forest lands, and means 628 acres of private land will remain cut off from private access. The landowners had said they had a right to build the roads so they could develop homes on the land.

The Greater Yellowstone Coalition said the reversal protects the threatened grizzly bear population and sends a message that Targhee officials should not use public environmental studies to benefit private landowners.

“This was an ill-conceived project where public resources were being expended,” said Marv Hoyt, the conservation group’s Idaho representative.

The land in question, on the north side of Fall River, lies in the area of the Yellowstone grizzly recovery zone that federal biologists consider most crucial for conservation. When he decided in July to allow the two half-mile access spurs across forest land, Reese said the land probably would be developed anyway. He said allowing short roads would cause less environmental damage than forcing longer routes outside the Forest Service boundary.

Dorothy MacKay, who owns 600 acres and has tried to sell the land, said she was disappointed in the decision.

“How am I going to get in there?” she said.

MacKay had no further comment about what she would do with the land or whether she would continue seeking an easement.

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