The Bitterroots, which define much of the border between Idaho and Montana, provides a natural wildlife corridor for elk, wolves, bear and deer.
But the range is threatened by logging and motorized recreation. Huge fires during the summer of 2000 have prompted battles over salvage logging.
In fact, the biggest salvage sale in U.S. history was proposed in the Bitterroots; it would have produced 190 million board feet of timber from 46,000 acres of burned forest. The plan sparked a lawsuit from the Sierra Club, Friends of the Bitterroot, The Wilderness Society and other environmental groups.
The settlement, reached in February 2002, included protection for 15,000 acres of pristine roadless areas and limits on logging in the Bitterroot National Forest -- only two-thirds of that volume, or 55 million board feet, will be logged. The settlement also upheld the right of citizens and organizations to comment on and appeal U.S. Forest Service decisions.
Sierra Club and other groups are watching the Forest Service closely
to ensure that loggin in the Bitterroot is done with the least damage
possible. Salvage logging disrupts the forest's natural cycle of
renewal and increased sediment runoff into streams. Ending
destructive commercial logging in our national forests is vital
to restoring healthy forest ecosystems and sustainable local economies.
What you can do: To find out the latest issues in the Bitterroot
Mountains and get email alerts to take action, click
here and join the listserv. For more information, contact Bob
Clark at firstname.lastname@example.org,
or call (406) 549-1142.
Photo: Nez Perce National Historical Park, courtesy of the National Park Service.