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  • Writer's pictureLouisa Willcox

Episode 42 - Gary Macfarlane

Gary Macfarlane

Gary Macfarlane is one of the great grassroots champions of wild places in the Northern Rockies, serving as Director of the Friends of the Clearwater based in Moscow, Idaho, and on the boards of Wilderness Watch and the Alliance for the Wild Rockies. Here, Gary shares insights from 35 years of advocacy on behalf of wildlife and wilderness, including one of the largest ecosystems in the lower 48 states: the Selway Bitterroot, also called the Salmon Selway. One of the most exciting new developments in grizzly bear recovery is the recolonization of grizzlies in this vast ecosystem – a process that has just begun and could provide an ecological bridge reconnecting the long-isolated populations of the Northern Rockies.


"Backpacking in grizzly country is an enlivening experience -- I am keener, sharper, and more attune to what is happening… Some people may find it stressful, but I find it exhilarating."

"On public lands across the West, unfortunately, it seems the people who have the most influence are certain local elected leaders that represent the industrial perspective, that see the national forests only for the cash they can produce -- be it logs, minerals, or grazing…. All that spells trouble for species like grizzlies."

"The big missing link that connects the Greater Yellowstone to the Northern Continental Divide, and that connects the Greater Yellowstone to the Cabinet Yaak and Selkirks, is the Greater Salmon Selway. It has habitat for a lot of bears… and probably could support more bears than just about any of the other ecosystems in the lower 48 states."

"One of the great ironies is that a lot of the local conservation interests here, like Friends of the Clearwater, are advocates for the national interests, when sometimes the national conservation groups are trying to advocate for the local economic interests…"

"We’ve ready lost a lot of wild country and wildlife, and species like the grizzly have already lost a lot of country which will never return. Therefore, I think we have to be insistent that what remains must remain wild…. We need to be staunch defenders, because we’ve only got one planet, and our public land system is in serious trouble now."


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