For Immediate Release, August 17, 2023
Kristine Akland, (406) 544-9863, email@example.com
Lawsuit Launched to Challenge Massive Timber Sale in Montana’s Bitterroot National Forest
MISSOULA, Mont.— The Center for Biological filed a formal notice today of its intent to sue the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for approving a massive timber sale in Montana’s Bitterroot National Forest. The proposed logging project is in the heart of the Bitterroots and in important habitat for both bull trout and grizzly bears, two species protected as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
“Federal officials approved this destructive logging project without fully considering its harm to the Bitterroots’ animals and plants, including threatened species,” said Kristine Akland, Northern Rockies director and senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Bull trout are teetering on the edge of extinction and this project could wipe them out entirely. We need to stop the bulldozers and chainsaws before it’s too late.”
The Mud Creek Project authorizes logging nearly 40,000 acres and building or rebuilding more than 43 miles of roads through the Bitterroot National Forest.
The Forest Service approved the timber sale without identifying the locations, timing or scope of the logging units or roads. Instead, the agency said it will make those decisions when crews are on the ground, which inhibits analysis of potential harm to protected species and prevents public involvement.
Today’s notice said bull trout critical habitat will be contaminated by runoff from the project’s logging, road use and road construction. Federal agencies also failed to adequately consider the project’s effects on the reentry of grizzly bears into the Bitterroot National Forest, the notice said.
“We know grizzly bears are trying to come back to the Bitterroots. Three were seen in the forest just last week,” said Akland. “The agencies are actively sabotaging grizzly bear recovery instead of fulfilling their responsibilities under the Endangered Species Act to recover and protect them. We’re in the midst of an extinction crisis and the federal government must prioritize safeguarding our forests and protected species, not sell them off to the highest bidder.”
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.