“Here we go again. The KNF thinks they can still have their way and ignore the 25 remaining Yaak grizzly bears and clear-cut the U.S. headwaters of the Yaak River with the biggest timber sale in their history,” stated YVFC Board Chair Rick Bass. “This out-of-state log-grab—the logs would leave Montana immediately—destroys our attempts to have serious discussions regarding prudent forest management.” In a public announcement, on September 29, the KNF issued their Draft Decision Notice and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI).
The public has 45 days to comment on the massive backcountry logging project. Of the three proposed treatments considered for Black Ram, the USFS inexplicably chose the alternative that “May Affect, Likely to Adversely Affect” grizzly bears, their habitat, and status under the Endangered Species Act. In addition to clearcutting the ancient U.S. headwaters of the Yaak, the Black Ram alternative also proposes to add “more design features” to the Pacific Northwest Trail (PNT). The proposal ignores the fact that in July 2020, a Montana federal district court ruled in an ongoing case that because the PNT lacks a comprehensive plan there is the “reasonable probability” that grizzly bear conservation was threatened. By Congressional order, the U.S. Forest Service was required to complete the PNT’s plan over nine years ago. “Not only are they proposing to further de-water and clear-cut the old growth headwaters of the Yaak River, they are adding trail miles to an already out-of-compliance high-volume thru trail. The KNF should be treating the overgrown forests closer to towns, not clearcutting the Yaak’s backcountry,” observed Bass. “This is the kind of proposal that makes people reconsider spending taxpayer money for logging on public land,” said YVFC Executive Director Aaron Peterson. “Black Ram is a national poster of a forest that turns its back on community protection.” Given the import of the headwaters of the Yaak River, the YVFC requested a full environmental impact statement. Instead, said Peterson, “The KNF dallied for years, painted 800-year old trees, then released a brief unscientific document that would clear-cut grizzly core and aridify and erase the ancient forest where our water comes from.” The YVFC has notified the Montana delegation it will continue to oppose Black Ram and defend the headwaters of the Yaak River, the Yaak’s last 25 grizzlies, and support the need for science in public land management.
Submitted by, Aaron Peterson
Department of Transportation
between Libby and Eureka
The Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) is evaluating 11 bridges on MT 37 between Libby and Eureka. Most of the bridges were built between 1959 and 1974. They are safe to drive on, but it is important to identify needed repairs now to improve safety and extend the life of the bridges. “Keeping Montana’s bridges safe and functional is essential for the state. Routine upkeep helps MDT extend the life of the bridges and get the best return on our bridge investments,” said Terry Voeller, P.E., MDT Consultant Design Engineer. The Bridge Design section provides design and engineering management on bridge replacement, rehabilitation, and preservation projects. They also establish and maintain design criteria and standards, participate in research projects, and promote design initiatives to improve bridge performance and value.
A few reminders for the public from Cabinet Peaks Medical Center as we continue this journey through the COVID-19 pandemic. Please call your primary care provider if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. For a complete list of symptoms, please refer to www.cdc.gov. The CARD clinic is continuing COVID-19 testing on Mondays and Thursdays. You do not need a doctor’s order for COVID-19 testing at this site. Only those who are symptomatic, or a close contact of a known positive, may be tested at this time. Currently, nobody in the county is performing asymptomatic community-based testing. If you have any questions related to COVID-19, please call the county’s COVID hotline at 293-6295. The hotline is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. The CPMC Emergency Department is not the treatment place of choice for COVID-19 and is not a testing center for COVID-19. CPMC’s Emergency Department should only be utilized if your symptoms are urgent or emergent.
Submitted by Kate Stephens