Enviros Protest New Forest Service Grizzly Habitat Plan

Grizzly bears in the six national forests around Yellowstone National Park — the largest grizzly ecosystem in the lower 48 states — are to be taken off the Endangered Species Act’s list of protected species. But the U.S. Forest Service plan to subsequently protect their habitat, revealed on Friday (surely not in an attempt to bury it in the news cycle), has enviros up in arms. Conservationists had recommended a plan that would protect 8 million acres, closing much of it to oil and gas drilling, eliminating roads, and reducing logging — allowing grizzlies to move in and out of the ecosystem to avoid inbreeding and sustain genetic diversity. The Forest Service acknowledged that the enviro-backed plan “would provide the best protection of the grizzly bear, but would have the most impacts on developed recreation, timber, grazing, and oil and gas.” Can’t have that! So the agency proposed a smaller habitat area with fewer protections and a plan to fly bears in to breed, which Rob Ament, director of American Wildlands, derided as “an experiment to play grizzly bear Cupid with helicopters and love darts.”