State aims to help fight lawsuits challenging Helena-area forestry project

The state of Montana is seeking to join the fight against lawsuits challenging a major forestry project near Helena.

The Montana Department of Justice under Attorney General Tim Fox filed its request Monday to intervene in litigation over the Forest Service’s Ten Mile-South Helena Project. The request has not been challenged by other parties in the lawsuits and allows DOJ to argue the state’s position in several aspects of the cases.

“This case is extremely important because of the state lands at issue that could burn, the watershed that’s so important not only under state law concerning ownership of water but public safety and health, and then of course the fire danger because the fuel loading in this area is so high that it’s become a tinderbox,” said Attorney General Tim Fox.

The Ten Mile-South Helena Project includes logging, thinning and prescribed burning as well as some trail work and stream restoration on 17,500 acres within a 60,000-acre project area southwest of Helena. The drainage supplies one of two sources of water for the city, and officials say it will provide places to insert firefighters in the event a wildfire is burning toward

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