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2024 Montana Primary elections
Montana news about the environment, natural resources, wildlife, climate change and more.

Forest project scaled back over impacts on grizzly bears; Upper Tenmile cleanup meeting

Settlement scales-down forest project, road building in grizzly bear habitat near Helena
Ellis Juhlin | Montana Public Radio

The U.S. Forest Service has reached a settlement with two Montana conservation advocacy groups over a proposed 140,000 acre project northeast of Helena.

Alliance for the Wild Rockies and the Native Ecosystems Council settled with the U.S. Forest Service to stop portions of logging and burning proposed under the Middleman Project.

The Forest Service had said the project in the Big Belt Mountains was needed to reduce wildfire risk to nearby communities. Environmental groups argued the work would harm wildlife.

Mike Garrity with Alliance for the Wild Rockies said roads needed for the project would reduce grizzly bear movement.

"If we want grizzly bears to recover and eventually be removed from the endangered species list — which we do. We once again need to have one connected population."

The groups’ legal agreement allows for a commercial timber sale in a section called the Crouching Trout Timber Sale and fire treatments in areas near homes.

The settlement stops 110 miles of road construction, and blocks logging on over 5,000 acres of forest.

The Forest Service declined to comment on the litigation until legal fees are paid as part of the settlement.

DEQ plans for Upper Tenmile Superfund cleanup near Helena
Victoria Traxler | Montana Public Radio

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality began new projects in April to clean-up the Upper Tenmile Superfund site southwest of Helena. The department announced Monday four construction projects are underway aimed at reducing heavy metals from mining contaminating the area.

The Upper Tenmile Creek site covers 53 square miles. Federal remediation efforts to clean decades of mining pollution began in the early 2000s. This year’s work addresses waste removal from previous projects, RV Ranch irrigation ditch cleanup and Minnehaha Creek drainage mine sites cleanup.

A public meeting to discuss the project is scheduled for April 18 at 6 p.m. at the Rimini Fire Station near Helena.

Ellis Juhlin is MTPR's Rocky Mountain Front reporter. Ellis previously worked as a science reporter at Utah Public Radio and a reporter at Yellowstone Public Radio. She has a Master's Degree in Ecology from Utah State University. She's an average birder and wants you to keep your cat indoors. She has two dogs, one of which is afraid of birds.
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