Forest Watch

Forests and Roadless Areas

The Yaak Valley Forest Council advocates for National Forest management that supports wildlife, old-growth forests, and a healthy Yaak River watershed. For endangered species, we campaign for a climate refuge in the Yaak and the protection of wildlife corridors, roadless areas, and core grizzly bear habitat. For Lincoln County residents, we work for bear-safe communities, the co-existence of people and wildlife, and responsible outdoor recreation in the Yaak and across the Kootenai National Forest. Since 1997, the Yaak Valley Forest Council has brought over a million dollars into Lincoln County through forest and habitat restoration projects that preserve and protect the wild Yaak.


Our Forest Watch team is the eyes, ears, and voice for conservation on the ground. The Yaak Valley Forest Council follows the U.S. Forest Service’s National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) steps on each project from scoping to environmental analysis and the draft record of decision. We act to provide input and correct course when a project plan does not take climate change into consideration or provide adequate protection for wildlife and old-growth forests.

The goal of this monitoring program is to bring about forest management in the wild Yaak that sustains the health of our watersheds, wildlife, local communities, and local economies for generations to come.

The Yaak Valley Forest Council works on the 2.2 million-acre Kootenai National Forest, the entire Yaak watershed, and in the areas surrounding it. Since our program’s inception in 1997, the Yaak Valley Forest Council has monitored project areas totaling more than 1.1 million acres. This vast acreage is a testament to our organization’s dedicated field conservation efforts over the intervening decades.

Black Ram Project

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 Yaak Valley Forest Council’s THRIVE program is designed to research and monitor vegetative response to land management treatments with an aim to create healthier, more resilient grizzly bear and lynx habitat. Identifying which treatments are most effective at promoting ideal vegetative conditions for wildlife persistence will contribute to the recovery of these endangered species in the Kootenai National Forest. Click here to read more about THRIVE.

Huckleberries in the Yaak Valley.

Program Photos