This project is focused at maintaining grizzly bear use of avalanche chutes and riparian areas in a managed landscape. Almost all grizzly bear studies in complex mountainous terrain have identified strong selection for these two habitat types. Current guidelines suggest forested buffers of specified widths be left adjacent to avalanche chutes and riparian areas. However, the determination of buffer-width and acceptable forest management within buffers (e.g., selective logging) was based on limited information. Additionally, there are no clear criteria for identifying which avalanche chutes or riparian areas should be buffered. Current guidelines may not be achieving the ecological objective of maintaining the level of bear use in key habitats (e.g. chutes and riparian areas), while at the same time are unnecessarily constraining to the forest industry. The main objective of this project is to evaluate and refine guidelines for forested buffers around avalanche chutes and riparian areas, to achieve a more efficient balance between ecological and economic objectives. This project is based on three types of information: 1) a retrospective analysis of previously collected GPS and VHF radio-telemetry data on grizzly bears in the Flathead River drainage (A FIA-FSP Long Term Research Instillation), the Highway #3 corridor grizzly bear project between Crowsnest Pass and Elko, and the Westslopes bear project centered on Golden, BC, 2) newly collected GPS radio-telemetry data on grizzly bears in the Elk and Flathead valleys, and 3) site investigation information on grizzly bear sign, and in particular beds, located in the facility of avalanche chutes.
McLellan, Bruce N.. 2006. Evaluating and refining guidelines for forested buffers for grizzly bear habitat management. Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program. Forest Investment Account Report. FIA2006MR205