News Shorts

September 01, 2004

DESIGNATIONS UNDER NREPA

• Wilderness Areas: Adds 18,389,035 acres of new wilderness areas in order to secure protection for roadless areas within core ecosystems. These additions to existing wilderness areas fill important biological gaps.

• National Park and Preserve Studies: Establishes Hells Canyon/Chief Joseph National Preserve along the Idaho-Oregon border, and the Flathead National Park and Preserve Study Area adjacent to Glacier National Park.

• Wild and Scenic Rivers: Designates 1,810 miles of eligible waters and Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers, with protections from dams and developments, while preserving watersheds and native fisheries.

• Biological Connecting Corridors: Designates roadless lands in the corridors as wilderness areas (over 4 million acres of the total listed under "Wilderness Areas"), plus lands as special corridor management areas.

• National Wildland Recovery System: Establishes a pilot system of nine National Wildland Recovery Areas. These are areas with severely damaged ecosystems. Over 2,000 new jobs will be created to aid recovery efforts that will restore native vegetation and diversity, reduce erosion, close unneeded roads, and reestablish native fisheries.

• Native American Religious and Treaty Rights: The Badger-Two Medicine area adjacent to Glacier National Park and the Blackfeet Reservation will be designated as the Blackfeet Wilderness. Traditional Native American uses and treaty rights on all NREPA areas are recognized and protected.

• Contiguous Canadian Wildlands: The Northern Rockies are crucial to Y2Y, a U.S./Canadian effort to protect an 1,800-mile stretch from Yellowstone National Park to the Yukon Territory. Canadian citizens are pursuing efforts complementary to NREPA on adjacent lands in Alberta and British Columbia.

CORE ECOSYSTEMS OF THE NORTHERN ROCKIES

• Cabinet-Yaak-Selkirk Ecosystem: The wettest of the five ecosystems, it boasts the last major stands of low elevation ancient forests, including the oldest living cedars in America. The only woodland caribou herd in the lower 48 still roams here, joined by the grizzly and the endangered Coeur d'Alene salamander. Towering spires and remote, lake-filled basins define the Cabinet, Selkirk and Purcell Ranges.

• Glacier-Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem: Encompassing Glacier National Park and the Bob Marshall Wilderness, America's largest bighorn sheep herd scales the peaks here and grizzlies still roam the prairies along the Rocky Mountain Front. Old growth forests in the Swan and Mission Ranges shade pristine bull trout spawning runs.

• Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem: Yellowstone's world-famous geyser basins, vast forests, abundant wildlife and blue-ribbon trout streams form the core of this great ecosystem. Glaciers and permanent snowfields cloak the rugged Teton and Beartooth Mountains. Diverse habitats range from cactus deserts to alpine tundra. Wildlife includes the grizzly bear, our nation's last wild bison herd, endangered trumpeter swans and nearly 50,000 elk.

Hells Canyon-Wallowa Ecosystem: The Hells Canyon of the Snake River--the deepest river-carved canyon in the world--forms the core of this mostly vertical ecosystem. America's largest elk herd roams the old growth ponderosa pine and larch forests beneath the high peaks of the Wallowa and Seven Devils Mountains. The region abounds in cultural and archeological sites. The Imnaha River Chinook are among the largest salmon in the nation.

• Salmon-Selway Ecosystem: This ecosystem is one of the most rugged, remote areas in America. At its heart are the Frank Church/River of No Return and Selway-Bitterroot Wildernesses. Several species of salmon and steelhead trout still swim from the Pacific Ocean to spawn in the high mountain tributaries of the Salmon and Clearwater Rivers. Biological and landscape diversity is great, ranging from rocky, dry canyons to wet forests of ancient cedars. :

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