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Montana news about the environment, natural resources, wildlife, climate change and more.

Controversial Black Ram logging project moves forward

Kootenai National Forest sign.
Josh Burnham
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The Kootenai National Forest finalized a contentious logging project on Tuesday, June 21, after a court-ordered evaluation found that the Black Ram project won’t severely impact grizzly bears and other threatened species. But environmental groups are pushing back against that finding.

The U.S. Forest Service withdrew the Black Ram project in 2020 after a lawsuit resulted in a court order for the federal government to take another look at whether it would severely impact grizzly bears and other threatened species.

Last fall, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released findings that said the project wouldn’t severely impact most protected animals and that harms to grizzly bears could be mitigated. The Kootenai National Forest has agreed to quickly close temporary logging roads and monitor them for illegal motorized use after the project is completed in order to protect bears.

Several environmental groups say road building and clear cuts will imperil the small population of grizzlies in the Cabinet-Yaak ecosystem. WildEarth Guardians and Alliance for the Wild Rockies say they plan to take the agency back to court over its latest decision.