Northwest Montana Logging Projects Challenged Over Bears

By Beacon Staff

BILLINGS – An environmental group is seeking to stop three logging projects on several thousand acres in northwest Montana, arguing that the timber sales would harm the area’s fledgling grizzly bear population.

The Alliance for the Wild Rockies filed a federal lawsuit Monday to block the projects in the Kootenai National Forest, which are designed in part to reduce fire danger and provide commercial logging opportunities.

The suit alleges that 14 miles of proposed new logging roads could ultimately wipe out the 30 to 40 grizzlies in the forest’s Cabinet-Yaak area.

The lawsuit was assigned to U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy in Missoula. It is expected to be heard sometime next year.

Kootenai Forest spokesman Willie Sykes said he could not comment on the matter. But documents submitted by the agency show that while some new roads would be built, other would be removed to improve grizzly habitat.

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