Judge slaps Forest Service over Soldier-Butler logging project

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Mike Bader, an analyst for the Flathead-Lolo-Bitterroot Citizens Task Force, stands next to larch trees marked in blue to be logged in the Little McCormick Creek drainage of the Ninemile Valley.

TOM BAUER, Missoulian Rob Chaney

A federal judge has halted an extensive forest management project in the Ninemile drainage west of Missoula, ruling that the U.S. Forest Service failed to follow its own rules on road construction and protecting wildlife habitat.

“Grizzly bears are finally getting the due diligence they deserve in the Ninemile,” said Patty Ames, president of the Flathead-Lolo-Bitterroot Citizen Task Force, which helped bring the lawsuit.

“This area is critical to regional recovery of grizzly bears, including reestablishment in the Bitterroot Ecosystem,” Ames said. “Now the Forest Service must account for the impact of all roads on grizzly bear survival and habitat use and use the best available scientific information.”

The Soldier-Butler Project would affect about 45,160 acres in the mountains north of Alberton. It involved logging about 17.5 million board-feet of timber on 9,975 acres

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