The U.N. is urging the U.M. for an urgent halt to the construction of a new federal reservoir that could damage habitat for endangered grizzly bears in the Uintah Basin.
The National Park Service’s conservation officer has said the proposed reservoir would protect “a very large number of species” that could threaten habitat for some grizzly.
The Umpqua River, for instance, is home to the endangered mountain lion.
“I am deeply concerned by the proposed project and the impacts it could have on the grizzly population in the Basin,” said Natalia Oleske, an ecologist with the park service’s National Park Foundation.
“We are concerned about the impact on the local populations, the ecosystem and the environment, and the potential impacts on our other threatened species.”
The project would be located on a remote corner of the Umpquamish National Forest, in an area called the “Wildlife Area,” a place that has become a popular destination for tourists and wildlife enthusiasts.
The park service has said there are fewer than 5,000 grizzly in the area, making it the smallest population in North America.
“We need to get out there and make sure this project is a good decision for the residents of the Basin, the people who live and work in that area and the people that depend on that area,” Oleskes said.
“It is important to us that the project is stopped and that we get it done right.
We’re also concerned about habitat for other species, including grizzly.”
Grizzly bear habitat in the basin has been shrinking, thanks in part to development.
The state recently approved $10 million in federal funding for a conservation easement that would allow the Army Corps to develop a 3.2-mile pipeline to bring natural gas from a proposed pipeline in the region.
The project is the latest development in a decades-long fight over federal control over the grizzlies’ habitat.
The U.A.E. Department of Interior, which oversees the federal government’s grizzly management program, said it was not able to provide an estimate of the total cost of the project, but noted that it would be a project that would require more than $1 billion.
“This is a project of tremendous complexity and significant costs, but I am confident that the UMPQUAMISH Basin communities and all stakeholders will be better served by the outcome,” Interior Secretary Mary Nichols said in a statement.
“The Bureau of Land Management will continue to provide the fullest and most accurate information possible.”
Oleske said the state was also concerned that the federal agency could delay or block construction of the pipeline.
“The UMPquamishes are already the most vulnerable area in the country to climate change, and if we are not careful, this project could have a devastating impact on their habitat,” she said.