News & Features

Judge Halts Montana Logging Project Pending Lawsuit

U.S. District Judge Susan Watters halted the Bureau of Land Management project in the Elkhorn Mountains

HELENA — A federal judge has blocked a western Montana logging project pending the resolution of a lawsuit over its potential environmental harm.

U.S. District Judge Susan Watters halted the Bureau of Land Management project in the Elkhorn Mountains near Townsend in a ruling last week. The agency wants to cut conifer trees on 7 square miles (18 square kilometers) and burn another 2 square miles (5 square kilometers).

The project also called for allowing livestock grazing when other grazing allotments are unavailable due to circumstances such as drought or wildfire, the Independent Record reported.

Opponents had successfully sued to stop the project in 2018 after the court determined the land bureau had not adequately studies its effects. The agency issued another decision and began some burning this year.

But a U.S. magistrate judge said the agency still did not offer enough analysis when it re-analyzed the issue, and recommended halting the project while the case plays out.