Grizzly road delays

  Fierce opposition from area residents has delayed a plan to improve grizzly bear habitat in Idaho's Targhee National Forest. The Forest Service recently agreed to an out-of-court settlement with environmental groups to close hundreds of roads in an area adjacent to Yellowstone National Park (HCN, 4/4/94). But during an environmental assessment of the new plan, 2,000 people sent in comments opposing the closures. Now, forest officials say there will be up to a two-year delay while an environmental impact statement is included in the 10-year forest plan. District Ranger Dave Dillard says people were angry about reduced forest access and feared an influx of grizzly bears. One resident even worried about bears in downtown Ashton eating children. Dillard says moving ahead against people's wishes could trigger a backlash that would harm the bears. He says the delay will allow time to clear up public misinformation. Louisa Willcox, program director of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, says the Forest Service is "chickening out," reports the Teton Valley News. The coalition and 11 other groups had sued the agency for failing to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over logging in grizzly habitat. Currently, no grizzlies live in the area. For more information, contact the Supervisor's Office, Targhee National Forest, P.O. Box 208, St. Anthony, ID 83445 (208/624-3151), or Greater Yellowstone Coalition, P.O. Box 1874, Bozeman, MT 59771 (406/586-1593).