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Know the West

Saving trees to save bears

  In what one official calls a "directional shift" in agency policy, the Forest Service has proposed some of the country's most stringent guidelines for protecting grizzly bear habitat in a portion of Idaho's Targhee National Forest. Under the plan, the Forest Service would suspend new road construction and timber harvests for at least 11 years in 164,000 acres west of Yellowstone National Park. The agency would also rip out the first 600 feet of more than two dozen roads to deter drivers, and close 88,000 acres to off-road use during the summer. The plan is the result of an out-of-court settlement with 12 environmental groups who sued the agency for failing to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over proposed timber harvests in grizzly habitat. "I'm ecstatic, delighted," says Louisa Willcox, program director for the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. "The U.S. Forest Service should be commended for finally empowering the bear." Loggers were not pleased, since the restrictions would reduce this year's harvest from a target of 25 million board-feet to 10 million board-feet. "It's going to put us out of business," says logger Eugene Clark of Ashton, Wyo. The proposed out-of-court settlement to the environmental lawsuit awaits judicial approval. For more information, contact Bill Levere, Acting Forest Supervisor, Room 8301 Federal Building, 125 South State Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84138 (801/524-6501).