Seeley Swan to Welcome

Communities | Recreation | Real Estate | Events | Lodging
Local History | Churches | Businesses | News & Features

Grizzly Bear management in Swan Valley

by Suzanne Vernon
For the Pathfinder
April 25, 1996

The grizzly bears are starting to venture out of their dens this week, and the bear biologists are revisiting the Swan Valley this spring, too.

Chris Servheen, Grizzly Bear Recovery Corrdinator with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Missoula, solicited comments from local residents during the March 28 meeting of the Swan Valley Ad Hoc Committe at Condon.

The Ad Hoc Committee holds regular meetings to address natural resources issues in the Swan Valley.

Servheen helped Swan Valley citizens develop a local grizzly bear management plan which was completed last year. He came back to the Swan Valley this spring to answer questions and listen to local residents.

"We want to improve application of the Citizen Action Plan," he explained. That plan, titled "Managing Private Land in Swan Valley Linkage Zones for Grizzly bears and other Wildlife" was published and mailed to Swan Valley residents from the Summit to the Lake County line last year. It contains recommendations for grizzly management intended to improve quality of life for both people and bears, and to minimize disturbance between local residents and grizzlies.

Most of the comments during the meeting centered around the distribution of the publication. Many local landowners did not receive a copy of the document, since they do not receive mail in the Valley. Servheen indicated that more copies of the plan will be published and distributed in the near future. The report provides recommendations for various land-use issues, and addresses subjects such as subdivisions, grazing, and road management. It discusses activities on residential properties such as garbage disposal, storage of livestock and pet food, management of orchards and gardens, and the keeping of certain types of livestock.

At the recent meeting, local residents brought up the subject of road closures in the Swan Valley, a widely debated topic that has received much publicity since the Forest Service started closing roads here several years ago.

Residents indicated that they would like to see roads opened seasonally to allow activities such as firewood gathering and berry picking. Last summer, the Forest Service opened one road for about one week for firewood cutting, and residents responded favorably to that decision. Servheen indicated that he would work with local residents to pursue the short-term opening of other roads when such use wouldn't conflict with wildlife management goals. "That kind of thing is good," Servheen said. Servheen plans to return to Ad Hoc meetings "two or three more times" this year, to listen to comments from local citizens. For more information about Ad Hoc meetings, or to have your name placed on the mailing list, contact Rod Ash at Condon.