Ecosystem: Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystem
Location: Northwestern Montana
Project Type: Acquisition
First Project Protects Priority Grizzly Habitat on Yaak Mountain
In July 2011, Vital Ground celebrated its first acquisition for the Cabinet-Purcell-Selkirk Wildlife
Linkage Initiative — the Yaak Mountain property, 71 acres of lush meadows, hills and forest lands providing important habitat for grizzlies and other wildlife near the Canada-U.S. border northwest of Troy, Montana. Vital Ground and the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative launched this collaborative effort in 2008, deeming the Yaak Mountain parcel the top priority for protection after focal species research and computer modeling identified this area as significant linkage habitat. The Cabinet-Purcell-Selkirk Initiative is aimed at protecting dwindling habitat corridors between U.S. and Canada grizzly bear populations.
The Yaak Mountain purchase ensures the property will never be commercially or residentially developed and will connect relatively unfragmented grizzly habitat in Canada to habitat in the Cabinet-Yaak Grizzly Bear Recovery Zone — a 2,600 square-mile area delineated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service where the threatened grizzly bear population is estimated to be no more than 50 animals south of the Canada border. The interchange with more genetically and demographically robust grizzly bear populations in Canada is essential for preserving the viability of populations in the lower 48 states.