Northern Rockies

Within Mountain Prairie, the "Northern Rockies" region refers to the Rocky Mountains of western Montana. This region is characterized by rugged peaks and coniferous forests. A large percentage of the region is managed by the United States Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the Bureau of Land Management. At the far north, Glacier National Park protects over one million acres of the Northern Rockies. In 1932, Glacier and Waterton Lakes National Park (Alberta, Canada) were designated as the world's first International Peace Park.

The Northern Rockies is the only region in the lower 48 states that still supports populations of all of its original native species, including the grizzly bear, gray wolf, lynx, cougar, bison, osprey, trumpeter swan, westslope cutthroat trout, and whitebark pine.

Resources about the Rocky Mountains
Showing 24 Results
CollapseAir Pollution Issues in the Rocky Mountains
Description: This article is from the Newsletter of the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change. It describes sources and consequences of air pollution in the Rocky Mountains of North America. Also explored is the connection between air pollution risk and climate change. The author suggests that "research and long-term monitoring of air pollution and ecosystem responses are needed to protect these important high-elevation regions."
Resource Type: Issue Overviews, Unpublished Documents
Resource Format: URL
Publisher: International Human Dimensions Programme
ExpandARMI Studies Examine Causes of Amphibian Decline In Rocky Mountain West (PDF, 5 pp., 870 KB)
ExpandCenozoic Volcanism in the Pacific Northwest
ExpandClimate Change and Thresholds of Ecosystem Change: Invasibility of Tundra in the Northern Rocky Mountains
ExpandClimate Drivers of Fire in the Northern Rockies: Past, Present and Future
ExpandClosing Forest Roads for Habitat Protection: A Northern Rockies Case Study (PDF)
ExpandConserving Plant Diversity in Glacier National Park
ExpandFIDL - Forest Insect and Disease Leaflet - Heart Rots of Engelmann Spruce and Subalpine Fir in the Central Rocky Mountains
ExpandForest Fire in the U.S. Northern Rockies: A Primer
ExpandGlacier National Park Wildland Fire Management
ExpandGlobal Climate Change
ExpandLodgepole Pine Dwarf Mistletoe
ExpandMonitoring Glaciers' Health
ExpandNorth Central Rockies Forests
ExpandNorthern Rockies Coordination Center (NRCC)
ExpandPhysiographic Area: Central Rocky Mountains
ExpandPhysiographic Area: Southern Rocky Mountains
ExpandPhysiographic Region 62: Southern Rocky Mountains
ExpandPost-Breeding Habitat Use By Adult Boreal Toads (Bufo Boreas) After Wildfire In Glacier National Park, USA (PDF, 8 pp., 428 KB)
ExpandPredicting the Impact of Climate Change on Glacier and Vegetation Distribution in Glacier National Park to the Year 2100
ExpandRestoration of Carnivore Habitat Connectivity in the Northern Rocky Mountains
ExpandSouth Central Rockies Forests
ExpandStatus and Trends of the Nation's Biological Resources: Rocky Mountains
ExpandWhitebark Pine Communities

Northern Rockies

Map of Northern Rockies Ecosystem
[Image: Aaron Jones, Big Sky Institute]

Species Spotlight

Grizzly Bear
[Photo: Jim Peaco, National Park Service]

Grizzly Bear
Ursus arctos horribilis

Description: Adult grizzly bears have a concave face, high-humped shoulders, and curved claws. Males range from 300 to 600 pounds, and females typically weigh 200 to 400 pounds. While some grizzlies have fur that looks frosted (hence, "grizzly"), their thick fur varies in color from light brown to nearly black. Distinguishing a grizzly from a black bear can be very difficult despite the grizzly's larger size, and shorter, rounder ears.

Life History: The grizzly bear is an omnivore, eating both plants and animals. Approximately 80 to 90 percent of its diet is green vegetation, nuts, seeds, berries, and roots. Grizzlies also eat insects, and they often leave behind overturned stones and rotted logs. Most of the meat in the diet comes from animal carcasses, though the grizzly will occasionally prey on elk. In Alaska and Canada, salmon is an important food source. In the Greater Yellowstone and Northern Rockies regions, grizzlies will feed predominantly on whitebark pine seeds if given a large enough source.

Distribution: In the early 1800s, an estimated 50,000 grizzly bears roamed across the western United States from the Great Plains to the Pacific coast. Today, their populations in the lower 48 states are limited to the Northern Cascades (Washington), Northern Rockies, and Greater Yellowstone Ecosystems.

Status: Under the Endangered Species Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the grizzly bear as threatened in the lower 48 states in 1975. Recovery efforts have been modestly successful. In January 2006, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it will receive public comments on the proposal to remove the Greater Yellowstone grizzly bear population from the List. Read the federal register [PDF] on this announcement.


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