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Black voters in battleground states are a crucial voting bloc in 2024; Nikki Haley says she's voting for Trump in November; healthcare advocates suggest medical collaboration to treat fibroids; distinct vibes at IU Indianapolis pro-Palestinian protest.

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The House GOP moves to strike mention of Trump's criminal trial from the record, and his former rival Nikki Haley endorses him. Meanwhile, Ohio Republicans reject a legislative fix to ensure Biden's name appears on the November ballot.

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Smokey Bear thought only "you" could prevent forest fires, but mushrooms may also help, a Native American community in Oregon is achieving healthcare sovereignty, and Colorado farmers hope fast-maturing, drought-tolerant seeds will better handle climate change.

Wildlife habitat, connectivity, key to Lolo National Forest management plan

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Monday, April 1, 2024   

Today is the deadline for public comment on Montana's Lolo National Forest management plan. Advocates say the input will shape how the land is used for decades, but others say it could go further.

This is the first time the Lolo management plan has been revised since the late 1980s, said Montana Wildlife Federation board member and retired U.S. Forest Service wildlife biologist Skip Kowalski.

It will shape how the forest is managed for the next 30 years - affecting everything from recreational use and wildlife protections, to logging rules and grizzly bear habitat connectivity.

"Its location, in the area of Missoula," said Kowalski, "is equidistant between the north Continental Divide grizzly bear recovery area, and the Cabinet-Yaak recovery area - which is in northwestern Montana - and the recovery area for grizzly bears in the Selway Bitterroot."

Some sporting and conservation groups want the plan to make wildlife habitat connectivity a bigger priority. Today is the last day for public comment.

Kowalski said the proposed management plan is a good first step in managing the Lolo - but he called it a "work in progress" that needs to consider Montana's growth, which is why public input is so critical.

"We have a lot of increased recreation use," said Kowalski. "There's a lot more people moving into western Montana, and this will give the Lolo and opportunity to be able to manage the National Forest in concert with all of these other development pressures that are occurring."

The proposal designates the entire Montana portion of the Great Burn as Wilderness, which is a critical step in safeguarding vital wildlife corridors in the face of climate change.

But Kowalski argued it should consider more roadless areas there, too.



Disclosure: Montana Wildlife Federation contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Endangered Species & Wildlife, Environment, Public Lands/Wilderness. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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