Environmental groups are suing the Bitterroot National Forest over a proposed project that calls for about 5,600 acres of commercial logging. The Gold Butterfly project would take place on about 7,300 acres. It includes non-commercial thinning and about 4,800 acres of prescribed burns.
Friends of the Bitterroot and Alliance for the Wild Rockies sued primarily over the commercial logging within the project. The complaint filed in U.S. District Court on July 10 alleges that the project violates the federal Healthy Forest Restoration Act because it includes logging in old growth woods and doesn’t meet standards for road limitations in elk habitat.
The groups are also asking the Forest Service to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over protections for species like bull trout and grizzly bears, which are listed under the Endangered Species Act.
A spokesperson for the Bitterroot National Forest says the agency is still digesting the lawsuit, but says it modified the project to maintain old growth trees and believes there are adequate protections for wildlife.