Stop the Black Ram Project

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

  • Tom Vilsack Secretary, U.S. Department of Agriculture at:

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. 

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