The National Park Service said Wednesday it will go ahead with plans to remove one campground at Fishing Bridge in Yellowstone National Park.
Park spokesman Greg Kroll said the Park Service will phase out a 310-site campground where most conflicts between grizzly bears and humans take place.Some commercial facilities also will be removed and partially replaced in the Lake area. No historic structures will be removed until the Park Service has consulted with the federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, Kroll said.
And a 360-unit recreational vehicle park will remain open at Fishing Bridge.
The action was outlined in a final environmental impact statement that park officials completed in April for the controversial Fishing Bridge area, which is in prime grizzly bear habitat.
Many environmentalists have opposed the Park Service's plan to retain some facilities at Fishing Bridge rather than removing all of them.
The Park Service decision comes when a lawsuit over Fishing Bridge is pending in the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.
The lawsuit, filed by the National Wildlife Federation, contends the park service has violated the Endangered Species Act with its Fishing Bridge policies. Grizzly bears, a threatened species in the Yellowstone ecosystem, are protected by the act.
Kroll said several actions will be taken to mitigate potential bear-human conflicts at the remaining Fishing Bridge development. Bridge Bay campground will be renovated and a campground reservation system will be implemented to get better use of existing park campsites.
Bridge Bay is the only one on the national reservation system this year, but all major campgrounds in the park should be on the system next year, Kroll said.
Replacement campsites for Fishing Bridge will not be built until the 12 major park campgrounds are filled to more than 95 percent capacity for three seasons in a five-year period, Kroll said.
If new campsites are built, they will not necessarily be placed at Weasel Creek, a few miles from Fishing Bridge, he said. The Park Service earlier this year considered putting a replacement campground at Weasel Creek, but environmentalists objected, saying grizzly bears also use that area.