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Missoula judge halts Lolo forest logging plan, citing habitat concerns

An map excerpt of the Soldier-Butler Project area on the Lolo National Forest.
Lolo National Forest
An map excerpt of the Soldier-Butler Project area on the Lolo National Forest.

A U.S. District Court judge in Missoula has stopped a logging project on the Lolo National Forest, saying it didn’t follow the forest’s management plan.

The U.S. Forest Service signed off on the roughly 10,000-acre Soldier-Butler Project in the Ninemile Ranger District last year. The Alliance for the Wild Rockies quickly sued over the logging project, arguing that it didn’t follow sections of the Lolo National Forest’s management plan regarding elk habitat.

Executive Director of the alliance Mike Garrity explains why:

“They weren’t retaining enough trees for elk security cover, and the Forest Service’s response was that they are not required to follow the forest plan.”

In a ruling issued Tuesday, Missoula District Court Judge Dana Christensen agreed. Christensen halted the project saying the Forest Service needed to remedy that issue and reconsult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on how the use of old logging roads will impact grizzly bears.

Spokesperson for the Lolo National Forest Kate Jerman says the Forest Service is reviewing the ruling and considering next steps.

Aaron graduated from the University of Minnesota School of Journalism in 2015 after interning at Minnesota Public Radio. He landed his first reporting gig in Wrangell, Alaska where he enjoyed the remote Alaskan lifestyle and eventually moved back to the road system as the KBBI News Director in Homer, Alaska. He joined the MTPR team in 2019. Aaron now reports on all things in northwest Montana and statewide health care.
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