Stop the Black Ram Project


⇒ Check out the latest issue of Orion by Marina Tsaplina refuting the Black Ram project.

⇒ This webpage to Protect Ancient Forests presents bipartisan and indigenous interests in the Black Ram area.

Click here to read Bill McKibben’s article on a Yaak climate refuge vs. clearcutting.

In 2019, the Kootenai National Forest proposed a major logging project in the Yaak ecosystem that would commercially log more than 4,000 acres, including:  

  • clearcutting 2,011 acres (more than 3 square miles), including one clearcut 293 acres in size, about ½ a square mile,  
  • logging 950+ acres of old-growth and mature forest,  
  • removing 57 million board feet of commercial timber,  
  • bulldozing nearly a mile of new and permanent road through old forest and reconstructing or maintaining 90.3 miles of road.

The Kootenai National Forest asserts that the project is needed to “manage the forest stands in the Project Area to maintain or improve their resilience to disturbances such as drought, insect and disease outbreaks, and wildfires.” Yet logging and clearcutting to create more plantations often worsen wildfire risks by leaving slash and broken branches, increasing human access, and removing fire-resistant trees. About 60% of the project area is outside (and downwind of) the “wildland-urban interface,” and miles from homes or other structures. 

Black Ram is one of five massive logging projects, covering more than 300,000 acres, stacked on top of one another on the Kootenai National Forest’s western side. 

The Forest Service has admitted the 25 or fewer grizzly bears left in the relatively isolated Yaak Valley ecosystem, already threatened by unsustainable logging across the Canadian border, are likely to be adversely affected. The project will do so in part by increasing road density standards above thresholds meant to protect bears for up to 10 years. With more roads and disturbance come more opportunities for human-bear conflicts, with often deadly consequences for grizzlies. Bear experts in the U.S. and Canada have raised the alarm about the project.  

Old and mature forests, and the soil they nourish and that nourishes them, are champions of carbon storage and could play a key role in buffering against the threat of catastrophic climate change. Logging old forests, as proposed at Black Ram, significantly reduces the rate at which the forest stores carbon. Wildfires, which the Black Ram and similar projects purport to prevent, annually cause less damage to carbon storage than does logging. 

Climate and forest ecology experts have criticized the Kootenai National Forest’s analysis of the Black Ram project as verging on climate denial and noted that the project conflicts with President Biden’s call for federal agencies to aggressively tackle the climate crisis. 

YVFC Board Chair Rick Bass describing Black Ram's ancient forest: 

Outside Unit 72 - Big Sky Journal

YVFC was recently recognized for our efforts to halt the disastrous Black Ram Project and protect ancient old-growth spruce and larch in Celebrating Old Growth: A Conversation with Robin Wall Kimmerer, Robert Macfarlane, and David Haskell. Click on the link below to watch a recording of the discussion and learn more about old-growth forests, their global importance, and the great minds and thought leaders advocating for better old-growth forest research, understanding, and protection.

Celebrating Old-growth

Please send an email titled “Stop Yaak Black Ram” to the following:

Tom Vilsack Secretary, U.S. Department of Agriculture at:  agsec@usda.gov

Chief of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Forest Service: Randy.Moore@usda.gov

Senator Jon Tester at: https://www.tester.senate.gov/contact/

Senator Steve Daines at: https://www.daines.senate.gov/connect/email-steve

Congressman Matt Rosendale at: https://rosendale.house.gov/contact/

For more information or to add your name to our supporter list and receive email updates and newsletters email us at info@yaakvalley.org or call 406-295-9736.