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Wildlife advocates say Kootenai National Forest logging project would endanger grizzly habitat

The Kootenai River near Libby, MT.
Corin Cates-Carney
/
Montana Public Radio
The Kootenai River near Libby, MT.

Wildlife advocates filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against the U.S. Forest Service over a logging project in northwest Montana. The suit claims the small population of grizzly bears living in the Kootenai National Forest will be harmed by the work.

The nearly 5,000-acre Knotty Pine project would include roughly 3,000 acres of commercial logging as well 40 miles of road maintenance and road building. WildEarth Guardians in a lawsuit filed in federal court in Missoula argue that work will harm the local grizzly bear population.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that there are up to 60 bears living in the Cabinet-Yaak ecosystem, the second smallest of the three populated ecosystems in the Lower 48, where the bears are designated as threatened under the Endangered Species Protection Act.

The U.S. Forest Service finalized its project plan in March. Agency spokesperson Willie Sykes says the agency is still reviewing the lawsuit and does not comment on pending litigation.

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