Bitterroot Ecosystem

Idaho and Montana’s sprawling Bitterroot Ecosystem features more than 8,000 square miles of protected wilderness, but has yet to see the return of a resident grizzly population. Vital Ground  improves grizzlies’ chances of moving safely into the region.

Landscape photo of the Bitterroot Mountains

Vital Ground in the Bitterroot:
• Vital Ground has not completed any projects within the Bitterroot, but our work on the edges of the Cabinet-Yaak, Northern Continental Divide and Greater Yellowstone ecosystems improves grizzlies’ chances of moving safely into the region

Grizzlies in the Bitterroot:
• Last grizzly sighting verified by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service occurred in 2007
• Thanks to large, protected habitat cores and proximity to existing grizzly populations, the ecosystem remains designated as a recovery zone under FWS Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan
• Ecosystem spans much of central Idaho and small portions of western Montana
• Habitat cores includes 4.6 million acres of wilderness within 3 designated areas (Selway-Bitterroot, Frank Church-River of No Return and Gospel Hump), along with neighboring portions of 5 national forests (Bitterrot, Lolo, Nez Perce-Clearwater, Payette and Salmon-Challis)
• Communities in or adjacent to include: Missoula, Hamilton, Salmon, Challis, Stanley, McCall, Riggins and Grangeville

Other Conservation Partner Projects

in Grizzly Recovery Ecosystems

Vital Ground works to protect and restore habitat for wild grizzly populations in ecosystems where the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has designated grizzly bear recovery zones and where state wildlife management agencies have placed an emphasis on conserving the species.