The U.S. Department of the Interior announced last week plans to infuse $161 million into ecosystem restoration on the nation’s public lands as part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda.
The plan calls for spending several million on multiple areas in Idaho and Montana.
This work, led by the Bureau of Land Management, will focus on 21 “Restoration Landscapes” across 11 Western states and will range from restoring wildlife habitat in the sagebrush steppe of the high desert to re-creating wetland meadows to repairing watersheds on former industrial timberlands, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said in a news release.
“The pressures on our public lands – from invasive species, unprecedented wildfires, drought and increasing use – are being exacerbated by the climate crisis, degrading landscapes and impacting public uses,” she said.
“If we are going to ensure America’s public lands are available to everyone, we must invest in their health.”
The BLM selected the 21 Restoration Landscapes based on ecological need as well as importance to communities.
The plan allocates $7.85 million for east Idaho rivers and plains; $10 million for the Snake River plain; and $9.1 million for the Upper Salmon River.
In Montana, the plan allocates $9.54 million for the Blackfoot-Clark Fork rivers; $6.75 million for the Hi-Line Sagebrush Anchor; and $9.98 million for the Missouri River headwaters area.
The plan did not list any grant funds for the state of Washington.
More information about each landscape restoration area can be found the BLM’s StoryMap.
Groups seek bear identification courses
Nine conservation organizations sent letters Thursday urging the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and Idaho Department of Fish and Game to require black bear hunters to take a bear identification course before getting a hunting license.
Hunters in Washington and Montana are required to take bear identification quizzes.
The push follows an incident in May when a man shot a 530-pound grizzly bear just outside Yellowstone National Park and later said he mistook the grizzly for a black bear.
“The loss of even a single grizzly bear is a tragedy to the recovery of the species as there are fewer than 2,000 bears that occupy a tiny fraction of their historic territory in the lower 48 states,” Kristin Combs of Wyoming Wildlife Advocates said. “If there is something else that can be done to prevent further mortalities of grizzlies, the agencies have an obligation to do so.”
From 2010 to 2022, the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team identified 14 grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone region that were killed because of mistaken identity. A total of 113 bear deaths remain “under investigation.”
Detailed information on these mortalities is not available to the public, according to the news release.
“All states in grizzly bear country should mandate that hunters take a bear identification course regularly,” said Bonnie Rice, national wildlife campaign manager for the Sierra Club. “The vast majority of grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem die from human-related causes.
“Hunters have a responsibility to be able to properly identify their target at all times before taking that shot, just as states have a responsibility to protect threatened species.”