CRITTERS – The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee voted unanimously Wednesday in favor of ending federal endangered species protections for grizzly bears in and around Yellowstone National park.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will consider the recommendation in 2014.
Scientists say there are more than 700 grizzly bears in the Yellowstone region of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming following a decades-long recovery.
Revoking the animal’s threatened species status would open the door to limited hunting, but other conservation measures would stay in place.
Environmental groups worried about climate change say it’s too early to take the bears off the threatened list.
Counties challenge Clearwater travel plan
FORESTS – Two northern Idaho counties have filed a federal lawsuit against a plan that closed off 200 miles of national forest trails to motorized vehicles.
The lawsuit filed Monday by Idaho and Clearwater counties accuses Clearwater National Forest officials of failing to adequately consult with local authorities while drafting the travel plan enacted last year.
County officials also claim forest planners didn’t properly analyze the plan’s local economic impact and allege the forest created de facto wilderness areas by banning motorcycles and mountain bikes from areas previously recommended for wilderness.
The lawsuit is the latest filed against the forest and its 2012 travel policy.
Last week, three environmental groups sued in federal court, contending the forest plan allows too much access for motorized vehicles, a policy they say will ultimately harm wildlife habitat. The environmental groups allege the travel plan violates a 1987 plan by allowing motorized vehicle use in areas the agency had pledged to protect as prime habitat for elk.
Discounts offered on Roosevelt permits
BOATING – Boaters and anglers can save money by buying 2014 season boat launch permit for Lake Roosevelt before the end of April.
A launch permit is required at all designated National Park Service ramps regardless of the type of vessel.
Without a season permit, boaters pay on-site a $6 fee for a permit valid for seven days.
Season permits cost $30 now and $40 starting in May.
Federal Golden Age, Golden Access and Interagency Senior or Access Pass cardholders get 50 percent off.
Purchase by mail at National Park Service, 1368 Kettle Park Road, Kettle Falls, WA 99141, Attn: Boat Launch Permit.
Info: (509) 754-7809.
State surveys public on wildlife issues
WILDLIFE – The Washington Fish and Wildlife Department is conducting a public survey to help identify key wildlife issues to be addressed in its revised Game Management Plan.
WDFW is updating a plan that guides the long-term management of game species, and is used to develop regulations for hunting seasons.
The survey will be available through Jan. 3 online at wdfw.wa.gov/conservation.