CRG is keenly aware of the
importance of Bull River. Many groups work in a positive manner
to protect and improve the Bull River valley ecosystem. They
seek to provide habitat protection and recreational
opportunities. Some of them work with landowners to protect the
land, water and wildlife in the Bull River area.
Among the groups are Avista, Clark Fork – Pend Oreille
Conservancy, The Conservation Fund, Green Mountain Conservation
District, and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. CRG has
representation on several of these organizations and CRG is
supportive of their efforts.
Two major projects already achieved are Wood Duck 1 and Wood
Duck 2. These encompass 153 acres of permanent conservation
easement. They protect bull trout, west slope cutthroat trout,
elk, moose, bear, waterfowl, and many other species. The lead
organization in this was The Conservation Fund.
Green Mountain Conservation District’s review of all
applications – Form 310 – relating to stream management in much
of CRG’s geographical areas of concern is a vital role in
maintaining the quality of streams.
Community Awareness Network
CRG is supportive of the efforts of the Community Awareness
Network – CAN - which opposes the creation of a coal fired power
plant in very close proximity to numerous natural features and
residents' homes in Thompson Falls. The facility would be
injurious to the health and well being of residents, to fish and
wildlife, and to air quality. The numerous investors considering
the project and then totally withdrawing from it is a clear
indication of its impracticality.
BACK TO TOP
CLIMBING WALL IN TROY
The Kootenai Rocks is
a loosely organized group in the Troy-Libby area of Montana. It
has raised funds to construct a climbing wall in the new
It has been immensely popular. CRG contributed to the wall which closely relates to the
varied outdoor activities the CRG encourages in its geographical
area of concern.
HIGHWAY 200: SLIPPING AWAY
In the summer
of 2006 the Montana Department of Transportation [DOT] drilled
near mile marker 16 on Montana Highway 200, just a short
distance east of the Noxon, Montana, turnoff.
The Sanders County Ledger reported more than 16
feet in height of former road surface collapsed alongside the
side slope, one layer on top of another. Being in the
vicinity of the proposed Rock Creek Mine. It aroused the
interest of several persons.
collapsing had been going on for years and merely was covered
with another layer or road each time it occurred. At the
bottom of the tall stack of debris was a broken drainage culvert
discharging water. Serendipitously it was learned from a
former worker on this part of the highway that this was where
truckloads of rocks and boulders were poured in the spot and
they just sunk from view.
Further investigation disclosed this was the site
of a geologic strike-slip fault and several springs. The
latter compounded the problem. Concern arose that exiting
problems would be exacerbated by drainage from the proposed Rock
The matter was referred to the Montana Department
of Transportation [DOT]. That resulted in drilling which sought
to determine the depth of the fault, its composition and
structure, and the best way to stabilize the area.
The Montana Department of Environmental Quality [DEQ],
the state agency handling the studies and granting some permits
for the mine, never investigated this problem nor did it notify
the DOT of the possible effects the mine could have on repair of
initial drilling disclosed a quarter mile segment of Highway 200
which could fail and slide into the Clark Fork River [Brian
This could be catastrophic for residents of the area, those
traveling Highway 200 at the time, transportation in the Clark
Fork valley in Sanders County.
Further studies by the state concluded that
drainage from mining exploration drilling at Rock Creek – 168
gallons per minute – would not pose a problem since the drainage
would not go in that direction. It was also concluded that the
mine operation – 3 million gallons per day would not damage the
road. Presently the state is planning to put a new drainage
system under the road at the site described.
BACK TO TOP
PERMITTED AS PROPOSED
The EPA and
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wrote responses to the
Environmental Impact Statement on the Montanore mine proposal.
They show the project can’t be permitted as presently proposed.
The EPA gave
the supplemental statement by Montanore an EO-2 rating., meaning
the EPA has environmental objections to the proposal.
more data on groundwater drawdown, especially in relation to
seasonal draining of Rock Lake in the Cabinet Mountains
expressed concerns about reduction in surface water flow which
are not in compliance with Montana’s Water Quality Act.
requires an exploration of ways to avoid or minimize destruction
of federal wetlands before resorting to land mitigation to
replace such losses.
Wildlife Service gave serious concerns about the impact on
grizzly bears, lynx, and bull trout.
Montanore Mine, like the Rock Creek Mine, would mine ore beneath
the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness.
BACK TO TOP
Public Supports Grizzly
A recent survey of attitudes
toward grizzly bears in Sanders and Lincoln Counties in Montana
[Cabinet-Yaak area] discloses that the majority of residents
support grizzly bear recovery in the Cabinet-Yaak area.
The survey was lead by Kim Annis, Master of Science, Wildlife
Biologist, Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks, Sarah
Canepa, Masters degree in Science, Lands Specialist with Vital
Ground Foundation, and Wayne Kasworm, Grizzly Research
Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
survey began in 2006 and the study was published in 2007.
The survey was developed cooperatively by the Yaak Valley Forest
Council, state and federal agencies, non-profit groups and
members of the public. All were concerned with grizzly bear
recovery in the Cabinet-Yaak area.
The methodology employed met standard requirements for a valid
survey. Participants were randomly selected by telephone number
from residents of Heron, Noxon, Thompson Falls, Trout Creek,
Troy and Yaak. Of those telephoned 85%  agreed to
Some of the major results were:
v 90% believe people can prevent
most people-grizzly bear conflicts.
v 70% believe grizzly bears belong
in the Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystem and should be preserved for future
v 62% are willing to accept
changes to garbage disposal methods if it will help prevent
problems with grizzly bears.
v 57% support efforts for grizzly
bear recovery in the Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystem.
v The above 57% soared to
75% if it can be done without moving problem grizzly bears into
the Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystem from outside that area.
v The above 57% declined to 44%
when queried about the recovery plan goal of 100 grizzly bears
in the ecosystem. [see U.S. Fish and Wildlife Grizzly Bear
Recovery Plan, 1993]
v 32% are not aware that the
motorized access restrictions on certain U.S. National Forest
lands are due, in part, to grizzly bear management.
A summary of the results in more detail and a copy of the
report, can be downloaded free from the Interagency Grizzly Bear
Committee (IGBC) website.
BACK TO TOP
AMERICANS WANT CLEAN AIR, CLEAN WATER, WILDERNESS AND MORE
For years the majority of Americans have spoken out for clean
air, clean, water, more wilderness areas, and more roadless
areas. These results have shown up repeatedly in scientific
surveys, polls, and studies with a high percent of validity.
In 1983, Jack Utter, University of Montana, polled 400 Montana
citizens regarding wilderness. Montanans
strongly approved of the idea of wilderness. They strongly
opposed the use of natural resources located in wilderness
areas. Certain resources, under special circumstances, lowered
Eight years later, Gundars and Johansen, University of Idaho,
polled 2670 U. S. residents of wilderness counties. 81% felt
wilderness areas were important to their counties. 65% were
against mineral or energy development in wilderness areas. 53%
stated that the presence of wilderness was an important why they
live in the area or moved to the area.
In 1998, a study by Cordell, Tarrant, McDonald and Bergstrom,
56% of those polled felt we did not have enough
protected wilderness and about 29% thought the amount was just
about right. 53.7 of those polled in western states felt there
was not enough. Only 2.5% thought there was too much. Those
favoring more wilderness valued the protection of water quality,
wildlife habitat, air quality, passing such lands to future
generations and protection of endangered species among other
From 1999 through 2001 the U S Forest Service held three comment
periods for the Roadless Area Conservation Rule. Over 2.2
millions comments were received in support of the rule which is
so vital to creation of wilderness areas. The most recent of the
comment periods resulted in 13,891 comments from Montana
residents in support of the rule. The support in Montana
exceeded that of 24 other states.
A national survey in 2002 by Republican pollster Linda DiVall
indicated that 76% of Americans supported President Clinton’s
policy of permanently protecting roadless areas from
development. It also revealed that 62% of Republicans thought
likewise. 78% of the independents agreed. In this poll, a solid
majority in each geographic region of the U.S. felt the nation
did not have enough permanently protected land in the national
national poll by the Los Angeles Times, in 2001, disclosed that
9 out of 10 said it was personally important to them that
wilderness and open spaces be preserved. 40% of those polled
said they were environmentally active. With the exception of
Alaska, the majority said they didn’t want the search of new
sources of energy to impact the environment.
The following year, 2003, a poll conducted by Zogby
International showed that the majority of Americans want more
wilderness. Strong support was shown for wilderness and it
crossed political party lines, regions of the U.S., age groups,
religious and ethnic backgrounds. 71% of those polled indicated
that 10 percent or more of all lands in the United States should
be protected as wilderness. When told that 4.7 percent was
permanently protected, close to two-thirds believed that “not
enough.” 51% of the Republicans said it was “not enough.” 72% of
the Democrats polled and 70% of the Independent concurred with
the majority of Republicans. The margin of error for this study
was +/- 3.2 percent
In 2004, the U.S. Forest Service released results of 600 public
meetings and hearings held in all national forests. With 1.7
million comments being received, more than 95% supported the
strongest possible protection for the nation’s remaining
Two years later, hundreds of Montana businesses voiced strong
support for backcountry in the national forests. In March they
urged Gov. Schweitzer to keep the backcountry natural and free
of roads. Over 350 businesses were involved.
In 2007, a survey was made in Colorado – a state much like
Montana, but with more people – of residents of that state. 71%
of those polled agreed that quality wilderness is more important
for recreation, tourism and wildlife than for energy development
and motorized recreation. That level of support was consistent
in all areas of the state, including very rural counties with
much federal land. The support never dipped below 59% in any
area. Pro-wilderness support was strong in both political
parties, 85% for Democrats, 76% for Independents, and 52% for
Republicans. Only 37% felt that wilderness unfairly restricts
off-road vehicle users and mountain bikers.
Montana’s Attorney General filed an amicus brief in favor of the
roadless rule in 2008 in a case brought by other states. This
was done primarily because of the widespread support for the
rule among Montanans.
The Governor cited many reasons why the roadless rule was
important. Several counties in Montana had also expressed – in
writing – support for protection of the rule. Included in these
were several with substantial roadless areas.
BACK TO TOP
In 2006, a group of concerned
residents of Heron, Montana founded CRD. A plan for a gated
development of 74 sites clustered in the vicinity of a lodge to
be built aroused them to action.
CRD raised serious questions
about several issues connected with the proposed development……
density of the development
effects on air quality
effect on the inadequate Heron bridge
adverse effect on poorly maintained and repaired county
inability of local emergency services to handle such a
deficiencies of the developer to properly meet the
requirements of environmental assessment, water
availability, septic proposals and storm water drainage
In spite of these shortcomings
the County Commissioners approved the development.
CRD went to court and lost all
the way up to the Supreme Court of Montana. Not opposing
responsible development, but knowing that this development did
not meet those criteria, the CRD appealed to the Montana Supreme
Court. In May, 2009, the Montana Supreme court decided the
case in favor of CRD.
Some of the interesting comments
of the Montana Supreme Court in this decision were:
MCA, required the Board to make an initial or “baseline”
about whether the
application contained sufficient information for review of the
and to notify the
Developer of this determination. This necessarily includes a
of whether the EA
contained sufficient information as well, because the EA, when
required, must be
submitted with the application 
¶19 CRD’s next
contention is that the EA was inadequate because it did not
required by law, even if all of the information submitted by the
process is considered. We first note that CRD uses expansive
to describe what it
believes an EA must contain, arguing that an EA must be
and offer a variety
of proposed solutions for all impacts a proposed subdivision may
Although portions of
this later-submitted material are pertinent to the EA, they are
organized to satisfy
EA requirements, but rather address other specific concerns…..
could be relevant to the EA is buried in documents created
Subsection 603 also
requires that an EA contain “a community impact report
a statement of
anticipated needs of the proposed subdivision for local
services, including. . .
. roads and
maintenance . . . and fire and police protection….. However,
while the EA and
materials explain that the fire and police services are
insufficient for the
current needs of
the community, there is no summary of the probable impacts that
subdivision, which could potentially double the population of
have upon these
already strained services. Would the anticipated growth in the
of local residents
fostered by the new subdivision be served by existing services,
by an anticipated
growth in local services, or would the subdivision exacerbate
further erode the ability to provide local services to all
residents? The EA
failed to provide “a
summary of the probable impacts” upon these services.
76-3-603(1)(b), MCA. 
The Board violated
the procedural requirements of 604 by failing to determine that
application and EA
satisfied the initial, baseline requirements necessary for
The EA was inadequate because it did not summarize the impacts
by the statutes,
and because much of the relevant information was not provided in
a cohesive format.
Some of the blame for the EA’s shortcomings can be traced to
between the local subdivision regulations and state statute,
bene: In using the term “Board”, the Supreme Court of Montana is
speaking of the Sanders County Board of Commissioners]
BACK TO TOP
Troy Impoundment Pond
In the summer of 2011, Revett
made overtures regarding the possibility of a meeting with CRG
to discuss the Troy Mine and the Troy Mine Impoundment Pond.
Several meetings were held. The
mine was toured.
The impoundment pond was
visited. Discuss was held regarding the mine and the
CRG made positive written
suggestions to the Troy Mine Revised Reclamation Plan Draft
Environmental Impact Statement in August, 2012.
Eventually there was an attempt
to explore the matter of possible barrels being buried in the
impoundment pond. See
article, “Exploration for Barrels”, for more information on this
BACK TO TOP
ROCK CREEK ADIT
Kootenai National Forest and Montana DEQ began an Environmental
Analysis of the Proposed Rock Creek Mine Adit. Issues arose
regarding the groundwater disposal method and the possibility of
major failure of a part of Montana Highway 200 which is in close
proximity to the mine site. CRG contracted for expert analysis
of the pending problem. Kootenai Nat. Forest and Montana DEQ
issued a Record of Decision approving the Exploration Adit
RELOCATION PROGRAM IN BULL RIVER
Beavers are an integral component of North
American’s watersheds and an economically viable means of
improving a watershed.
Prior to settlement, there were approximately 10 beavers per
stream mile or more than 60 million with a possibility of as
many as 400 million. Today the population is 2-4 million or 2
beavers per stream mile. This drastic decline has many
unfortunate effects…… increase in stream temperature, decline of
wetlands, increased sedimentation, increase in peak flows, and
changes in aquatic diversity.
Beaver ponds provide many benefits….
elevate the water table upstream of the dam
reduce sedimentation downstream of the dam
increase water storage
improve water quality
provide more waterfowl nesting and brooding
The Libby Ranger District, Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks are
collaborating on a program to relocate beavers in the Bull
River. Relocated beavers would come from existing populations in
Cabinet Resource Group has endorsed this program and has
donating one beaver trap. This program is dependent on public
If interested, send you donation to CRG, P.O. Box 238, Heron, MT
Make checks payable to CRG and note that it is for “Beaver
CRG SCHOLARSHIP WINNERS
is proud to have awarded scholarships in the amount of $600 each
to the following students in the last three years.
2010: Mitch Carpenter from Plains High School.
2011: Shawn Sacchi from Thompson Falls High School
2012: Kaitlin M. Reinsma from Libby School
AT CRG ANNUAL MEETINGS
The following persons have been recent speakers
at CRG annual meetings
Expert Tracker, Wildlife Biologist
Author, Widlife Biologist, Wildlife Photographer
Former Supervisor, U.S. Forest Service; Founder, Sustainable
Inveterate Marathon Hiker
Exec. Dir., MEIC
Wildlife Biologist and Researcher, Board Member, Orion, The
Research Biologist, Northern Divide Grizzly Bear Project
Avalanche Expert, Glacier Melting Researcher
Author, Exec. Dir. Cinnabar Foundation, Exec. Dir., Orion, The
DR. STEVE RUNNING,
Nobel Lauriat, Global Warming
Jon Turk was the main speaker at the March, 2012, Annual Meeting
of CRG. Jon’s expeditions have earned widespread acclaim.
National Geographic listed his circumnavigation of Ellesmere
island as of the 10 Greatest Adventures of the Year 2011. His
kayaking from Japan to Alaska is listed as one of the 10
All-Time Greatest Sea Kayak Expeditions. With over 65 people in
attendance it was one of the largest turnouts for an Annual
JON TURK ADDRESSES