Bitterroot Ecosystem

While the vast Selway-Bitterroot region awaits the return of a resident grizzly population, we’re building the corridors from other ecosystems that will help bears get there naturally.

Lolo-Pass-4-7-08-15-Lance-Schelvan
Snow piles deep near Lolo Pass in the Bitterroot Mountains. (Photo by Lance Schelvan)

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 Bitteroot:
• 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, remains designated as 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 Habitat 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.