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The Montana Sierran

Published quarterly by the Montana Chapter of the Sierra Club

WINTER 2009

Contents:

1. Federal Protections Restored to Yellowstone Grizzlies
2. Montana Chapter of the Sierra Club - Outing
3. Arctic Explorer Will Steger
4. Western Wilderness Conference 2010
5. Support Designation of Critical Bull Trout Habitat
6. Club Officers & Staff
7. For more information about...

Powder River

1. Federal Protections Restored to Yellowstone Grizzlies

by Monica Fella

Earlier this fall, a federal district court ordered Endangered Species Act protections reinstated for grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Judge Donald Molloy ruled that inadequate regulatory mechanisms were instituted to manage the bears after dropping federal protections in 2007, and that U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service failed to address the loss of one of the bear's primary food sources, whitebark pine, which is disappearing as a result of global warming.

Yellowstone grizzlies rely on high-fat seeds of whitebark pine as a key food source in critical months before hibernation. Warming temperatures have enabled mountain pine beetles to kill high-altitude whitebark pine trees at alarming rates. Availability of whitebark pine seeds is essential to female grizzly bear reproductive success. Because they grow in high, remote places, whitebark pine forests also keep grizzly bears out of harm's way. In poor seed years, grizzlies seek food closer to human habitation, leading to bear mortality rates that are 2-3 times higher than in good seed years.

After the Fish and Wildlife Service decided to remove grizzlies from the Endangered Species list in 2007, more than 40 percent of bear range in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem received no habitat protection. Nearly 2 million acres of high-quality habitat were opened to increased motorized access, more than 630,000 acres were opened for logging, and more than 850,000 acres were opened to oil and gas development. With Molloy's ruling, these lands will once again be managed for protection of bears as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act.

This decision restores strong protections for this great American treasure. Grizzly bears in the lower-48 states were reduced to one percent of their historic range and one to two percent of their historic numbers due to persecution, poisoning, predator control efforts, livestock grazing, sport hunting and habitat destruction associated with the march of human development. More than 270 scientists urged the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service not to delist the Yellowstone grizzly bear population, along with many conservation groups, including Sierra Club.

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2. Montana Chapter of the Sierra Club - Outing

Free and open to the public. Liability release - signatures required.

Friday, January 29th, Sunset/Moonlight Cross-Country Ski at Lubrecht Forest, under a full moon. We'll ski the gentler trails as they wind through this beautiful forest. Plan on taking a long break at the mid-way shelter, so bring hot-drinks and snacks. This is an easy ski for people who are not accustomed to low light skiing. Harsh weather will cancel the trip and no pets please. This is a joint trip with the Rocky Mountaineers. For the late afternoon meet-up / ride-sharing info call Steve Schombel at 721-4686 or email John Wolverton at yodelingdog at hotmail dot com.

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Aikido of Missoula

Woman submits comments on the EPA endangerment finding

3. Arctic Explorer Will Steger

Eyewitness to Climate Change
2010 Montana Tour

This Climate Change Tour brings eyewitness footage of global warming from extreme polar expeditions, together with Montana scientists and climate policy experts. The Will Steger Foundation is helping Montanans galvanize support for solutions to global warming and a transition to a clean energy economy. The Tour begins in Billings, travels to Bozeman, and then Missoula!

Feb 9th Billings 6:30 pm Billings Depot, 2310 Montana Ave.
Feb 10th Bozeman 7:00 pm MSU Campus, Leon Johnson Hall, Rm. 346
Feb 11th Missoula evening event, UM Campus, Urey Lecture Hall

Sponsored by, Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation, Montana Audubon, & Repower Montana.

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4. Western Wilderness Conference 2010

New Aims, New Allies

Join wilderness enthusiasts from all over the Western states April 8-11, 2010 on the campus of U.C. Berkeley in the San Francisco Bay Area. Some 800 participants will gather to focus on the role of wild lands in an era of global climate change and on how to win new allies for preserving wild places. Plenary sessions, dynamic speakers, and intensive workshops will help connect wild places with climate change and offer training on how to advocate effectively. Films, music, fun, networking, join us!

Although the event will take place in the San Francisco Bay Area, wilderness organizations and advocates from around the West are invited to participate in this grand event. Some 600 to 800 participants from all the western states will gather to focus on the role of wild lands in an era of global climate change. Plenary sessions, dynamic speakers and intensive workshops will help connect wild places with climate change and give lessons on how to advocate more effectively.

Why attend? Western Wilderness Conference 2010 will:

  • reach out to inspire interested new advocates, including students;
  • re-inspire longtime dedicated wilderness advocates;
  • focus on the role of wild lands in an era of global warming;
  • explore how wildlands advocacy can accommodate Native American traditional land-ethic and cultural values;
  • promote getting children outside into Nature’s wild places!
  • train activists to advocate more effectively for wild places;
  • and be fun! Speakers, plenary sessions, workshops, music, meals, outings! It’s all part of the celebration of the West’s wild places.

Sierra Club, California Wilderness Coalition, and Northwest Parks and Wilderness Conference are leading the planning. Twenty Sierra Club western chapters are already conference sponsor.

Register online at www.westernwilderness.org. “Early bird” registration fee is $100. Some scholarships will be available; contact Vicky Hoover, planning committee co-chair, fro info: vicky.hoover at sierraclub dot org or (425)977-5527.

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Natural Home Builders

Woman submits comments on the EPA endangerment finding

Spawning bull trout at Rattlesnake Creek, Missoula. Photo courtesy of Montana Dept. of Fish, Wildlife & Parks.

5. Support Designation of Critical Bull Trout Habitat

The bull trout is Montana's largest migratory trout, averaging 24" and reaching 20+ pounds, and swimming up to 90 miles on their Fall spawning journeys. They are protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) as a Threatened Species. A Federal Judge recently ruled against the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service final critical habitat designation for bull trout (cut by 80% by the previous administration). The Judge called the original Proposed Critical Habitat, prepared by the agency's scientists, "an excellent starting point."

The original proposal designated 18,450 miles of rivers and streams and more than 500,000 acres of lakes and reservoirs. Just as important, the context for these designations was maintaining and restoring migratory bull trout in viable metapopulations, emphasizing connectivity throughout the system. It was one of the most wide-reaching federal watershed plans ever mapped for the Columbia River Basin and holds the potential to benefit many other native species of salmon, steelhead and trout.

In Montana, the original proposal covered nearly 2,000 miles of streams, and important lakes and reservoirs including Flathead Lake, Swan Lake, Hungry Horse Reservoir and Lake Koocanusa. Just as importantly, the mainstem river bottoms were included as migratory corridors and overwintering habitat.

We may not see another opportunity in the near future that will rival the scope and importance of bull trout critical habitat designation. It is the critical habitat provision of the ESA that lays the foundation for recovery planning. It provides a legal nexus for prioritizing and implementing recovery actions. As such it is a highly useful tool for watershed restoration. Climate change poses yet another threat to the coldwater bull trout, making critical habitat designation paramount. Cold water is one of the primary constituent elements of bull trout critical habitat.

When the new proposal is released, the details on where and how to comment will be posted on the Montana Sierra Club website. Meanwhile, mark your calendar for February 16th and plan to attend the public meeting. It will take a strong show of public support, particularly in those areas closest to the bull trout habitat, to convince the Obama Administration to finalize the strongest possible critical habitat designation for bull trout.

TAKE ACTION ON THIS ISSUE:
Beginning the first week of January 2010, a public comment period will open on proposed designation of critical habitat for the threatened bull trout. A public meeting has tentatively been scheduled for February 16th in Missoula, Montana.

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6. Club Offices and Staff

Missoula

Physical address:
210 N. Higgins Ave., Ste. 222
Missoula, MT 59802

Mailing address:
PO Box 9283
Missoula, MT 59807

Phone:
Main Line: (406)549-1142
Line 2: (406)549-0732
Fax: (406)549-0772

Staff:
Paul Shively, Senior Regional Rep., paul.shively(at)sierraclub.org
Bob Clark, Associate Regional Rep., bob.clark(at)sierraclub.org
Brad Hash, Associate Regional Rep., brad.hash(at)sierraclub.org

Billings

Physical Address:
2401 Montana Ave, Suite 5
Billings MT 59101

Phone:
406-839-3333

Staff:
Mike Scott, Associate Regional Rep., mike.scott(at)sierraclub.org

Bozeman

Physical address:
222 East Main St., Ste. 303
Bozeman, MT 59715

Phone:
(406)582-8365

Staff:
Monica Fella, Associate Regional Rep., monica.fella(at)sierraclub.org

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7. For more information about...

Montana Chapter activities and meetings
Contact Jeff van den Noort at (406)582-1871

Missoula/Bitterroot area activites and meetings
Contact John Wolverton at yodelingdog at hotmail dot com

The Montana Sierran newsletter
Email mtsierraneditor at gmail dot com

Visit our Chapter website:
www.montana.sierraclub.org

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Montana Groups
Bitterroot / Mission | Headwaters | Upper Missouri | Yellowstone Basin Contact our staff offices in Bozeman at
P.O. Box 1290, Bozeman, Montana 59771
phone: (406) 582-8365 fax: (406) 582-9417
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