Reroute the Pacific Northwest Trail Out of the Yaak

Give those last few remaining bears there a chance

By Keith W. Kratzer

I have read numerous articles and listened to several local and national radio broadcasts over the past few months regarding the portion of the Pacific Northwest Trail that traverses the Yaak Valley in northwestern Montana.

One of the most troubling aspects of the whole conversation is the fact that in spite of a 1980 federal report recommending “no trail,” this portion of the trail was designated part of the Pacific Northwest Trail and thus a part of the National Scenic Trail in 2009 in direct opposition to said report, which stated that “there would be significant adverse environmental impacts on the grizzly bear and on fragile and frequently over-utilized high elevation areas.”

The trail was approved by Congress in 2009 when “attached” to another Omnibus Land Bill. It was also approved without any further environmental review, with no environmental impact statement, and with no comprehensive management plan set in place by the U.S. Forest Service.

This is an insult to the residents of the Yaak Valley and to all Montanans. It is also in direct violation of federal law.

It’s a shame that this issue has to be broadcast before the nation to receive the chance at justice it deserves. Methodical exploitation, even in the occurrence of oversight or neglect, or even in the name of environmentalism, is a disgrace to the Montana that we live in.

Why cannot we as a state have more respect for our most fragile habitats, our endangered wildlife, and our remaining wild nature than what we have?

Please reroute the Pacific Northwest Trail out of Yaak and down along the Kootenai River. Give those last few remaining bears there a chance.

Keith W. Kratzer
Columbia Falls

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