by The Associated Press
HELENA – A federal appeals court panel Monday granted a temporary injunction to halt logging and road-building on the Northeast Yaak Project in the Kootenai National Forest.
The project authorized logging of approximately 16.7 million board feet of timber from 1,777 acres, building new roads and reopening closed roads in the Cabinet-Yaak Grizzly Bear Recovery Zone.
The Alliance for the Wild Rockies sued in federal court in December 2007, arguing the project would have a detrimental impact on the endangered grizzly bear. U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy, in Missoula, ruled partially in favor of the Alliance and partially in favor of the government agencies and both sides appealed.
Molloy halted a small portion of the logging project, saying further evaluation was needed into effects of helicopter logging on “core” grizzly habitat. But he ruled against the plaintiffs on all other issues and said the project could continue.
On Monday, the plaintiffs were granted a temporary injunction.
“It’s time the federal government did the right thing for these bears, before they disappear entirely from the Yaak Valley and the Cabinet Mountains. They need more security and less disturbance from taxpayer-subsidized, money-losing timber sales,” said Michael Garrity, executive director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies.
Paul Bradford, supervisor of the Kootenai National Forest, did not respond to a telephone call and an e-mall message Monday afternoon seeking comment.
The 9th U.S. Circuit appellate panel, on its own motion, ordered an expedited hearing on the appeal and said it would be held sometime in June.