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Photo: William Stone, Dog Island Conservation District

Wild River Phase V property, Photo: Vital Ground Foundation
Wild River Phase V Project

The Cabinet-Yaak Grizzly Bear Recovery Area holds one of the most vulnerable grizzly bear populations in the Lower 48 and is bisected by the Kootenai River Valley. Two isolated subpopulations of grizzly bears reside in the Cabinet and Purcell mountains, with about 25 bears in each mountain range. For this small group of Cabinet-Yaak grizzly bears, connectivity between the Purcell and Cabinet mountains is critical to sustain the two subpopulations.

Atira Conservation partnered with the Vital Ground Foundation, located in Missoula, Montana, to eradicate a proposed subdivision in a key grizzly bear corridor in northwest Montana by purchasing the last 5.5-acre lot. This land acquisition, known as Wild River Phase V, is in Montana’s Kootenai River Valley which links the West Cabinet and Purcell mountain ranges and the two small grizzly bear subpopulations. The property is within a wildlife corridor that includes private land, a highway, railroad, and river that wildlife navigate between the two habitat strongholds. The Wild River Phase V property builds on a previous land acquisition consisting of fourteen subdivided lots (totaling 45.3 acres) aiming to support wildlife and habitat connectivity.

Additionally, land within the Wild River Phase V property borders ¼ mile of the Kootenai River, where major efforts are underway to recover the Federally Endangered white sturgeon. Protection of this property will also assist in bull trout recovery, a Federally Threatened species, and 35 additional plant and animal Species of Concern. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the Kootenai Tribes of Idaho will partner with Vital Ground Foundation on weed removal and aquatic habitat restoration in this critical river corridor.

Property Cost: $731,300; Atira Conservation Funding: $11,250

Kootenai River Valley, Photo: Vital Ground Foundation

Cedar grove on the project site, Photo Credit: Vital Ground Foundation