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FWS is headed back to court over road-building in Flathead National Forest

Closeup of a grizzly bear
Grizzly bear. Stock photo.

Conservation groups are suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over its assessment of the Flathead National Forest’s road-building policy in grizzly bear and bull trout habitat.

Last year, the U.S. District Court in Missoula ordered FWS to reevaluate its 2018 biological opinion which stated that the way in which the Flathead National Forest closed roads didn’t threaten grizzly bears and bull trout.

Both animals are protected under the Endangered Species Act, and roads are known to restrict movement of grizzlies and impact stream quality for bull trout.

During last year’s case, Friends of the Wild Swan and the Swan View Coalition argued that closing roads by blocking entrances with logs or boulders allowed continued use by off-road vehicles, and the court agreed.

The conservation groups are taking FWS back to court over its revised opinion issued earlier this year. The groups say the revised opinion still allows the U.S. Forest Service to build more roads while ineffectively closing others.

FWS declined to comment on the pending litigation.

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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