Friends of the Bitterroot

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Bitteroot Mountains
Bitterroot Mountains
Bitteroot Mountains
Bitterroot Mountains



Friends of the Bitterroot works to assure protection of the Bitterroot Valley and surrounding national forests of western Montana and northern Idaho - their beauty and unique agricultural, forest, water, air, wildlife and wilderness resources. Friends of the Bitterroot focuses on maintaining the character of wildlands, on maintaining healthy habitat for endangered species, on protecting wildlife corridors necessary for migration and genetic exchange, and on maintaining the status quo of roadless areas in the national forests of western states. Friends of the Bitterroot works through educational and other means to accomplish these goals, while seeking the broadest possible involvement and participation of valley people.

Strategic Plan Contents:

Forest Watch Technical Team

Selway Grizzly Search Project

Membership Development

Outreach and Alliance



Goals: To protect the environment of the Bitterroot National Forest and surrounding state and federal lands, in order to maintain both the character of wildlands and a healthy ecosystem within the forest.

Objectives: To ensure that forest stewardship decisions and actions are based upon science and the best interests of sustaining a healthy and natural forest ecosystem.

General Strategy: To encourage line officers in charge of federal and state of Montana agencies to comply with the laws and regulations governing administration of our public lands and natural resources, by fully participating in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Montana Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) processes.


Rationale & Goals: In 1998 Friends of the Bitterroot began our Selway Grizzly Search Project to aid in providing due diligence in the determination of presence/absence of grizzly bears in the Salmon/Selway ecosystem. The validity of this determination became relevant due to the proposal by the USFWS to "re-introduce" an "experimental, non-essential" grizzly population into the area. Such a plan is only legal in an area where there exists no resident population and disconnected from any resident population. The proposed plan would effectively reduce protections under the Threatened and Endangered Species Act for any grizzly bear resident before the down grade to "experimental, non-essential' status. It would be the same for any grizzly that wandered in after such a designation. The agencies have not done a diligent search. The latest attempt was over twelve years ago, did not use state of the art search techniques and was sketchy, at best.

The primary goal of the project is to find and document the presence of grizzlies, if there are any in the area. This is to protect the bear(s) and to argue for augmentation of that existing population.

Because of the politicization of grizzly bear recovery in the Bitterroot, the goals also include keeping hope for grizzly recovery alive while the political football changes hands. At present the FWS plan is on hold by "conservative" (not to be confused with conservative) politicians in Montana and Idaho.

The project also serves to act as a joker in the deck in the political game. The "experimental, non-essential" designation is mainly aimed at precluding designation of critical habitat that might result in reduction of resource development in grizzly habitat. If a breeding population of grizzly bears is documented in the area it would be deserving of not just threatened, but endangered status along with the designation and protection of critical habitat. As long as citizens continue to actively search it gives "conservative" politicians an incentive to dust off the shelved recovery plan in order to beat the possible documentation of resident grizzlies. The wisdom of this scenario is premised on the conclusion that no new blood spells the demise of any grizzly population, and that the proposed plan, albeit flawed, is better than no action.


1) Locate and document the presence of grizzlies, if there are any in the Salmon/Selway Ecosystem, in order to afford protection for them, and augmentation of the existing population, under the Threatened and Endangered Species Act.

2) Alternatively, and concurrently, keeping hope for grizzly recovery efforts, currently on hold because of "conservative" politicians, alive, given that the proposed plan, albeit flawed, is better than no action.

General Strategy: Aerial search and mapping in spring as bears come out of hibernation, for tracks leading to bear dens. This is followed up with ground searches before or after snow-melt, to enter located dens, obtain fur or scat samples for DNA analysis to determine whether bears are grizzlies.


Goals: Friends of the Bitterroot strives to maintain and increase membership levels and thereby strengthen the effectiveness of FOB and its mission. Friends of the Bitterroot encourages people from all walks of life to be advocates of sustainable, holistic conservation.


1) Increase the number of members who financially support the programs and objectives of FOB, in order to ensure the long-term financial solvency of FOB.

2) Provide and promote activities and projects for members and non-members which increase awareness of and demonstrate the importance of economically sustainable, ecological land use practices.

3) Increase the number of members who actively participate in volunteer work to further the mission of FOB.

4) Decrease misconceptions and falsehoods surrounding FOB by promoting programs which emphasize shared community goals and which encourage the participation of community members or groups with diverse interests.

General Strategies:

1) Increase awareness of issues and provide contact with the public through newsletters, mailings and other public outreach.

2) Foster good relations between steering committee members and general members through thank-you cards, phone calls, work projects, and social gatherings.

3) Encourage a positive perception of FOB, its mission, and its members by using media and public events to promote FOB views in a positive light.

4) Continue to offer solid ecological and sound economic alternatives and plans regarding federal and state land use strategies, that let the public know FOB's positions are based on sound science and economics.


Goals: To increase the effectiveness of our work, to broaden our impact on regional or national issues, and to strengthen the general conservation community through unified and synergystic action.


1) Initiate or participate in joint endeavors with other conservation groups on issues of common interest.

2) Encourage and mentor other new groups who are working on projects that compliment our mission and work.

General Strategy:

1) Offer fiscal sponsorship to new groups.

2) Coordinate with and support the work of new groups.

3) Coordinate with existing conservation groups on joint projects.

4) Network with other environmental activists to stay apprised of each other's work and opportunities for supporting each other's projects.