Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, December 4, 2017

Contact: Noah Greenwald, (503) 484-7495,

Completion of Northern Rockies Lynx Analysis Discredits Montana Senators' Rationale for Weakening Endangered Species Act  

WASHINGTON— A document recently obtained by the Center for Biological Diversity shows that an analysis of the U.S. Forest Service’s management of Canada lynx critical habitat in the northern Rockies was completed in a timely manner in mid-October, undermining the pretext for legislation aiming to weaken the Endangered Species Act.

Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) introduced a bill, S. 605, to cripple the Endangered Species Act nationwide, citing delays by the Forest Service in a routine review required by the Act. But the timely completion of the lynx analysis debunks the claims about delays that underpin S. 605, and in fact shows the Endangered Species Act is working exactly as intended.

“The so-called controversy was always a ginned-up charade to relax environmental protections for endangered species as a favor to the timber industry,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center. “Sadly the Forest Service was complicit in this effort to weaken endangered species protections. The completed assessment shows what a total nothing-burger this whole issue always was.”

The analysis in question was completed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in less than four months. In contrast, the actual request from the U.S. Forest Service seeking the analysis from the Fish and Wildlife Service took twice as long to complete. The delays by the Forest Service provided the political fodder for Montana’s senators to argue for sweeping changes to the Endangered Species Act.

For decades the Fish and Wildlife Service has required land-management agencies to reassess their actions if a new species is listed as threatened or endangered or if critical habitat is designated on these lands. The reassessments normally take a few weeks to a few months to complete. 

Despite the routine nature of these consultations, the Forest Service refused to assess the impacts of its actions on Canada lynx after critical habitat was designated in 2014, losing multiple court cases, including a failed Supreme Court appeal in October 2016. With no recourse available save a congressional bailout, the Forest Service continued dragging its feet in 2017. 

“The Trump administration seems to be deliberately dragging this out to push an agenda for weakening the Endangered Species Act,” said Greenwald. “Senator Tester’s and Senator Daines’ cynical legislation wouldn’t solve anything at all in Montana, but it would harm countless animals elsewhere, and that’s exactly what the Trump administration wants.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.5 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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