MTPR

Conservation Groups File Lawsuit Over Flathead Forest Plan

Apr 3, 2019

Two conservation groups filed a federal lawsuit this week, challenging the 2018 Flathead Forest Plan.

WildEarth Guardians and Western Watersheds Project say the 10 to 15 year management plan for the 2.4 million acre forest decreases habitat protections for wildlife, including grizzly bears, Canada lynx and bull trout.
 

"Such as increased potential for road building, more motorized recreation -- particularly oversnow recreation -- in key habitat areas," says Josh Osher of the Western Watersheds Project.

The Flathead Forest’s new forest plan was signed in December.
Credit Flathead National Forest

Osher says the plan also downplays the impacts of climate change.

"Especially forecasts for Montana that suggest we’re going to have warmer temperatures, more wildfires, declining food sources for a lot of these species, and we’re going to lose some of those habitat characteristics that these species depend on; particularly a species like bull trout that really depends on cold water."

The Flathead Forest’s new forest plan was signed in December. Forest managers say it was developed with extensive public input over four years and considered everyone’s input.

The Swan View Coalition and Friends of the Wild Swan, notified the Forest Service and U.S Fish and Wildlife Service in February of their intent to also legally challenge the plan.