PUBLIC LANDS -- The Idaho Panhandle, Kootenai and Lolo National Forests have adopted standards for motorized access within the Selkirk and Cabinet-Yaak Grizzly Bear Recovery Zones in a two year effort prompted by a 2006 court decision.
The Grizzly Bear Access Amendment makes no changes at specific sites. Changes to motorized access will be accomplished through separate, site specific NEPA analyses, including public comment and consultation with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Panhandle National Forests officials say.
Implementing the standards across the recovery zones affecting Washington, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming is expected to take up to eight years, they said.
The Grizzly Bear Access Amendment sets standards for road density and percentage of core habitat for grizzly bears across 30 Bear Management Units (BMUs) within the recovery zones. This amendment is expected to continue the current downward trend of grizzly bear mortality on national forest system lands within the recovery zones, but could result in approximately 16 to 48 miles of currently open motorized routes being barriered and an additional 18 to 54 miles of open routes being gated once standards are fully implemented, officials said.