Arlene Montgomery, Friends of the Wild Swan (406) 886-2011
Michael Garrity, Executive Director, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, (406) 459-5936
Calling it “a great win for the lynx,” Mike Garrity, Executive Director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies, announced that Federal District Judge Donald W. Molloy halted the Colt Summit Timber Sale on the Seeley Lake Ranger District on June 20th.
Garrity said, “Judge Molloy agreed with us that the Forest Service violated the National Environmental Policy Act by failing to analyze the project’s cumulative impacts on the lynx, which is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Judge Molloy has remanded the project back to the agency for further consideration and analysis.”
Friends of the Wild Swan, the Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Native Ecosystems Council, and Montana Ecosystems Defense Council brought the lawsuit against the Lolo National Forest and were represented by Matt Bishop of the Western Environmental Law Center. The groups did not challenge the road reclamation work associated with the project.
“We are pleased that the court recognized that the analysis of effects to lynx by the Forest Service was inadequate,” said Arlene Montgomery, Program Director for Friends of the Wild Swan. “This area is a critical wildlife linkage corridor between the Swan Range in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area to the east and the Mission Mountains Wilderness Area to the west. It was designated as lynx critical habitat and deserves extra protection.”
“This project was controversial because it was supported by groups and individuals associated with the Southwest Crown of the Continent Collaborative,” Garrity explained “But although the Montana Wilderness Association, the National Wildlife Federation and the Wilderness Society claimed they were heavily involved in the development of the project, the project records gave no indication of that. It was proposed by the Forest Service and then supported by those groups despite the fact that there were no discussions of the impacts to lynx between the collaborators and the Forest Service.”
George Wuerthner, an independent ecologist, author, and photographer, recently flew over the Colt Summit area to photograph the area. “I was shocked to see how much of the Seeley-Swan Valley is already logged that is not readily visible from the main highway or even by driving back roads. The problem for the Forest Service is that they are up against limits. You can’t continue to cut more and more of the valley without jeopardizing other values. There is such a thing as cumulative impacts and death by a thousand cuts.”