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Selkirk Campground Safety
Southern Selkirk Mountain Ecosystem
Selkirks Grizzly Bears
Southern Selkirk Mountain Caribou

SCA Education Program

One of SCA’s primary mission goals is to educate the public about environmental issues that negatively impact regional air, land, forests, wildlife and water resources. Our goal is to cultivate an environmentally conscious community of active environmental stewards.

We work to educate the community by giving free public talks and lectures & working with regional schools and partnering agencies, groups, associations, etc. to provide supplementary hands-on environmental education to our local youth.

In addition, we work hard to keep our community up to date on regional environmental issues and educate the community via regional media outlets and our social media platforms; Facebook, Instagram, e-blasts and our Sightlines newsletters.

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Explore our rich history with decades of our past Sightlines newsletters here

SCA also works to educate the public in the community and annually participates in many fairs, festivals and community gatherings including the; Bonner County Water Festival, Coolin Spring Festival, Priest River Timber Days and the Bonner County Fair.

Please, do not hesitate to reach out to us if your community, associations, HOA’s, groups, workplace, etc. would like SCA to give a FREE presentation on the environmental issues facing the Priest Lake Watershed.

Past SCA Educational Projects

Selkirk Campground Safety Projects

From 2012 through 2014, the SCA worked with several eagle scout candidates and boy scout troops to install 16 bear proof food storage lockers in state and federal campgrounds around Priest Lake. Funding, project management, and logistical support for these projects was provided by the Equinox Foundation, Yellowstone to Yukon Initiative, the Defenders of Wildlife, Idaho State Parks, Kalispell Tribe, and the SCA.

Do you know additional campgrounds that would benefit from similar installations? Please contact the SCA at the phone number or email address below.

The Southern Selkirk Mountain Ecosystem

The Southern Selkirk Mountain ecosystem encompasses portions of northern Idaho, northeastern Washington and southern British Columbia. This ecosystem extends from Priest River to the south, northward to Nelson, British Columbia and from Metaline Falls, Washington on the west, eastwards to Bonners Ferry, Idaho. This ecosystem contains a flora and fauna assemblage that is unique to the lower 48 States. This ecosystem is the only one within the conterminous United States, which still contain woodland (mountain) caribou. Other wildlife species which may be found with this ecosystem are: grizzly bear, gray wolf, Canada lynx, fisher, American marten, moose, elk, mule and white-tail deer, mountain goat and bighorn sheep to name a few. The ecosystem also contains a unique assemblage of various owls species which include: barred owl, great gray owl, great horned owls, boreal owls, flammulated owl, saw-whit owl, northern pygmy owl, western screech owl, long eared owl, Northern hawk owl, snowy owl (winter) and barn owl. 

Our Efforts

  • Continue to be engaged with land management agencies in regards to proposed management activities within the Selkirk Ecosystem.

You Can Help With Southern Selkirk Mountain Ecosystem – DONATE – JOIN – VOLUNTEER

Selkirks Grizzly Bears

The Selkirk grizzly bear recovery zone is the only one of the six recovery zones.

Grizzly bears originally ranged throughout most of western North America, but began disappearing from many western states to where only a few hundred grizzly bears remained south of Canada, by the 1970’s. The grizzly bear was federally listed as a threatened species in 1975. Today, their population is confined to less than two percent of their range, which is represented in six population centers south of Canada. This includes the Yellowstone, Northern Continental Divide, Cabinet-Yaak, North Cascades, Bitterroot, and Selkirk recovery zones.

The Selkirk grizzly bear recovery zone is the only one of the six recovery zones, which includes a portion of adjacent British Columbia as part of the lands that are necessary to achieve recovery of grizzly bears in that ecosystem. The estimate for the number of grizzly bears within this ecosystem range from somewhere between 50 and 70 bears. They are believed to be equally distributed between the United States and the British Columbia’s portion of the ecosystems and freely move across the border between the two countries.

Illegal mortalities (poaching, mistaken identification etc.) has always been a problem for this small grizzly bear population and may very well be one the leading factors which may limit recovery of this population. Human development (roads, homes, towns etc.) surrounding this ecosystem has also had its effect of this grizzly bear population. Recent genetic research into grizzly bears within the United States and north through Canada and into the southern part of Alaska has shown that the Selkirk grizzly bears show genetic markers suggesting that this population has been genetically and demographically isolated for at least the past several generations.

Our Efforts

  • Selkirk Conservation Alliance with the support of the Yellowstone 2 Yukon Initiative has participated in several seasons of ‘bear awareness’ campaigns, which targeted local youth groups and community events.
  • We have collected and evaluated information on the current conditions of grizzly bear habitat on lands under the jurisdiction of the Idaho Department of Lands within this ecosystem.
  • Provided comments pertaining the proposed grizzly bear management guidelines to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement of the Forest Plan Revision for the Idaho Panhandle National Forests.
  • Continue to be engaged with land management agencies in regards to the management of grizzly bear habitat and recovery.
  • Participated with Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Forest Service and Western Wildlife Outreach (formally Grizzly Bear Outreach Program) in the development of list of priority grizzly bear sanitation projects.
  • Provide funding and support for the implementation of bear sanitation projects within the ecosystem. We work closely with partners that include, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Kalispell Tribe, Defenders of Wildlife, Western Wildlife Outreach and Boy Scouts of America.

You Can Help With Selkirks Grizzly Bears – DONATE – JOIN – VOLUNTEER

Selkirk Caribou

S. Selkirk Mountain Caribou

Today, woodland caribou are found in only one location south of Canada, which are the Selkirk Mountains of northern Idaho and northeastern Washington.

Historically, within the lower 48 states, woodland caribou were once distributed from central Washington State to Glacier National Park in Montana and south to Salmon River. Additionally caribou were found within the Great Lake States and New England States such as Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. It is not know how many caribou were found within what are now the lower 48 states, but it is likely the numbers were in the thousands.

Selkirk Caribou – Photo Credit: David Moskowitz

Today, woodland caribou are found in only one location south of Canada, which are the Selkirk Mountains of northern Idaho and northeastern Washington. This small population, which historically numbered in the hundreds of caribou, has been reduced to less than 15 animals. The habitat for this small population is contiguous with adjacent British Columbia and the animals move freely across the international border.

Within the United States, woodland caribou were listed as an endangered species in 1984, whereas this mountain caribou ecotype was federally listed as a threatened species in British Columbia and Alberta under the Canadian Species At Risk Act in 2002. This recovery area represents less the 1 percent of their historical range within the western states. Approximately one-half of this caribou recovery area lies within northeastern Washington and northern Idaho while the other half lies within southern British Columbia, thus it is often referred to as an international herd and requires the efforts of both countries to achieve recovery.

Mountain caribou have adapted for life in cold and snowy, high-elevation environments. Their extremely warm coat, with hollow long guard hairs, traps body heat while their short ears, tail and snout minimize heat loss. Their large, wide hooves act like snowshoes, allowing the caribou to travel over deep snow.

The main threats to mountain caribou are habitat loss, predation, habitat fragmentation and degradation. Logging has removed many critical old growth and mature forests that caribou depend on and replaced them with younger early successional forests. These early successional forests attract moose, deer and elk, as well as their predators such as mountain lions, which may incidentally prey on the caribou. Before their habitat was fragmented, caribou largely avoided predation through their unique seasonal movements and by distributing themselves throughout extensive old-growth forests.

Our Efforts

  • Selkirk Conservation Alliance has been a contributing member of the International Mountain Caribou Technical Committee since 1993.
  • Selkirk Conservation Alliance has contributed funding to the International Mountain Technical committee to be used by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife in 1999 and 2000 to monitor radio-collared mountain caribou and mountain lions movements and caribou mortality within the Selkirk Mountains.
  • Supported the petition in 2002, to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to designate critical habitat for mountain caribou within the Selkirk caribou recovery area.
    Began aerial monitoring program to document the extent of snowmobile use within the caribou recovery area and areas that are closed to snowmobile use. This program continues with the support of our conservation partners.
  • Supported litigation in 2007, which required the U.S. Forest Service to manage winter recreation within the caribou recovery to reduce the potential for displacement and or harassment of caribou by snowmobiles.
  • Provided comments pertaining the proposed caribou management guidelines to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement of the Forest Plan Revision for the Idaho Panhandle National Forests.
  • Provided comments and suggestions to Draft Ruling for Designation of Critical Habitat for Selkirk Caribou that were proposed by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
  • Continue to be engaged with land management agencies in regards to the management of caribou habitat and caribou recovery.
  • In 2016 the SCA Board voted to provide financial and logistical support to the “On the Brink” documentary film being produced by Wildlife Biologist/Photographer David Moskowitz as part of the Mountain Caribou Initiative. Read more on Facebook

You Can Help With S. Selkirk Mountain Caribou – DONATE – JOIN – VOLUNTEER