For Immediate Release, May 2, 2023
Kristine Akland, Center for Biological Diversity, (406) 544-9863, firstname.lastname@example.org
Forest Service Clearcutting Plan Next to Yellowstone National Park Threatens Grizzlies, Old Growth
WEST YELLOWSTONE, Mont.— Conservation groups late Monday challenged a U.S. Forest Service plan to clearcut more than 5,500 acres of pine forests just outside Yellowstone National Park, in the Custer Gallatin National Forest. The plan also calls for logging across an additional 9,000 acres and bulldozing up to 56 miles of roads in the area, including through old-growth forests.
In their objection to the South Plateau project, the Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, Alliance for the Wild Rockies and WildEarth Guardians said the logging project will destroy habitat for grizzly bears, lynx, marten and other wildlife. It will bulldoze through old-growth forest and remove thousands of acres of mature pine trees.
“The Yellowstone ecosystem is a national treasure that’s vital to so many plants and animals. It deserves protection, not destruction,” said Kristine Akland, Northern Rockies regional director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “This reckless project will hurt grizzlies, lynx and other wildlife, and it’ll harm the climate. We’ll do everything possible to stop the Forest Service from clearcutting and bulldozing its way through these beautiful backcountry forests.”
The project would remove trees more than a century old, which provide wildlife habitat and store significant amounts of carbon — a key component of addressing the climate emergency.
“Mature and old-growth forests are essential to help address both the climate and extinction crises,” said Bonnie Rice, national wildlife campaign manager for Sierra Club. “This misguided logging project on Yellowstone’s doorstep undercuts the Biden administration’s climate, forest and wildlife commitments, and seriously threatens grizzly bear recovery by bulldozing roads and clearcutting in a highly used, designated grizzly recovery area.”
Maps released after the public comment period ended show the project would bulldoze a road through one of the few remaining patches of old-growth forest across the 40,000-acre landscape. The Forest Service failed to disclose any harms to old-growth forests in its environmental review.
“Clearcutting high-elevation lodgepole forests across thousands of acres is not going to improve ecological conditions and will not help protect communities from wildfire as the Forest Service claims,” said Adam Rissien, a rewilding advocate at WildEarth Guardians. “Rather, this is another misguided, old-style timber sale that will undermine the forest’s ability to store carbon.”
The groups say the project violates the National Environmental Policy Act by failing to disclose precisely where and when it would bulldoze roads and carve clearcuts, which makes it impossible for the public to understand the project’s impacts. In November the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency criticized the Forest Service’s analysis, saying it “hampers informed decision-making … and therefore meaningful public participation.”
“The Forest Service needs to drop the South Plateau project and quit cutting old-growth forests,” said Mike Garrity, executive director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies. “Especially clearcutting and bulldozing new logging roads in grizzly habitat on the border of Yellowstone National Park.”
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3.5 million members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.
WildEarth Guardians is a nonprofit conservation organization with offices in Montana and five other western states with a mission to protect and restore wildlife, wild places, wild rivers and the health of the American West.
The Alliance for the Wild Rockies is a regional environmental group whose mission is to protect habitat for native species in the Northern Rockies.