Colt Summit Map and FWS Concurrence Letter

It seems like this project has led to much discussion so..
Here’s the map of this project..

Given the discussion of wildlife impacts on previous posts, I thought it might be enlightening to review the FWS letter on the project.
Here is the link (the FWS letter is listed under “supporting”):

The proposed action consists of activities to improve habitat conditions for wildlife and restore forest conditions by developing a diverse mix of vegetative composition and structure that better represents historical conditions for the area. Activities include: vegetative treatments including prescribed fire on about 2,043 acres; decommissioning 4.1 miles of road along Colt creek; maintaining approximately 17 miles of existing roads under Forest jurisdiction and implementing BMPs where necessary; constructing approximately 3 miles of temporary roads and snowroads;
storing or decommissioning 25.2 additional miles of road; allowing 9.9 miles of road which is closed to public access and naturally restored to remain in this condition; replacing two aquatic barrier culverts; and conducting ground-based noxious weed herbicide treatments. All temporary roads and snowroads would be decommissioned following completion of the vegetation management activities. The proposed action consists of two distinct parcels that lie directly across highway 83 from one another and are in close proximity to a cluster of private homes.

Further information regarding the proposed action was provided in the biological assessment. The Service has reviewed the biological assessment and concurs with the determination that the proposed action is not likely to adversely affect the threatened grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis), the threatened Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis), or designated critical habitat for Canada lynx. Therefore, pursuant to 50 CFR 402.13 (a), formal consultation on these species is not required.
The Service bases its concurrence on the information and analysis in the biological assessment prepared by Scott Tomson, East Zone Wildlife Biologist. The proposed action is located within the Northern Continental Dived grizzly bear ecosystem (NCDE), in the Swan subunit and the Mission subunit, and outside of the NCDE where grizzly bears may occur. Although temporary roads will be constructed during the grizzly bear non-denning period, they will only be used for harvesting activities during the grizzly bear denning period with the exception of units 6 and 7 which are located along Highway 83. These temporary roads would primarily be snowroads, would only be used for access/hauling, would be closed yearlong to the public, and would be decommissioned upon project completion. Some BMP would be conducted on approximately 7.1 miles of roads and trails. The best grizzly bear habitat in the vicinity of the project provides spring habitat and the majority of road work, including road construction, would occur from July 1 through April 1, outside of the spring period. The road along Colt Creek would be decommissioned and re-routed in lower quality habitat at mid slope, closer to private land along the Highway 83 corridor. Although this re-route would result in a half mile increase in linear road density, the action would result in a more desirable condition for grizzly bears overall. Upon completion of the project, total road density would decrease by 4 percent and security core would increase by 1 percent (330 acres) within the Mission Subunit. Open road density would decrease by 1 percent within the Swan subunit. Also, the re-routed road would be closed during the spring season (April 1 through June 30). In addition to access management related impacts, project related activities may result in minor effects to cover; however, adequate forest cover would be retained within the action area. The potential for some activities to result in disturbance to grizzly bears does exist. However, most of the activity would occur during the grizzly bear denning period. Also, adequate displacement areas within the Bob Marshal Wilderness and Mission Mountain Wilderness are within close proximity to the project activities. A district-wide bear attractant order is in place which requires safe storage of all bear attractants.
The proposed action is located with the Clearwater Lynx Analysis Unit (LAU) in areas also designated as critical habitat for Canada lynx, containing primary constituent elements (PCEs). No precommercial thinning is planned and the stands selected for treatment are not considered mesic, multi-storied forests providing quality snowshoe hare habitat (lynx foraging habitat). Therefore, lynx foraging habitat (PCE1a) would not be impacted. Some temporary snowroads would be constructed for harvesting activities and most activity will occur during the winter. Therefore, some additional snow compaction would occur as a result of the action. However, such impacts would be minimal to lynx and to PCE1b. The project area is not considered to be high quality denning habitat (PCE1c). Large blocks of mature forest with significant amounts of coarse woody debris occur within the LAU and denning habitat is not considered limiting on the landscape. Therefore, impacts to denning habitat (PCE1c) would be minimal. Finally, the project area includes some matrix habitat (PCE1d). All treatments proposed would maintain the forested nature of the stands, thus maintaining the ability of lynx to travel through matrix habitat (PCE1d). Habitat connectivity would be maintained and the action would not result in permanent destruction of lynx or snowshoe hare habitat. The proposed action is consistent with all applicable standards and guidelines of the Northern Rockies Lynx Management Direction.
We agree with the conclusions in the biological assessment that project related impacts to grizzly bears, Canada lynx, and designated critical habitat for Canada lynx would be insignificant.

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