Michael Garrity, The Alliance for the Wild Rockies, (406) 459-5936
Sara Johnson, Native Ecosystems Council, (406) 285-3611
The Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Native Ecosystems Council and The Ecology Center announced today that they appealed the Windmill Timber Sale in the Gallatin National Forest to the Regional Forester, Brad Powell. The Windmill project calls for logging of an estimated 4.5 million board feet of trees from 690 acres of occupied grizzly bear habitat in the Mill Creek drainage, approximately 24 miles south of Livingston and adjacent to the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness. In addition to logging grizzly bear habitat and old-growth forests the Forest Service’s environmental impact statement reveals the Windmill timber sale will lose $376,953.09.
This timber sale was planned to help pay for the Big Sky Lumber Company land trade. “Only the government could claim with a straight face that losing $376,953 will help buy land. This will do the exact opposite. The Gallatin Land Consolidation Act requires the Forest Service to pay Big Sky Lumber with a combination of cash or land trades. Any shortfall in cash could result in additional Gallatin National Forest lands being given to Big Sky Lumber Company, and potentially developed or subdivided to complete the land trade,” stated Michael Garrity, Executive Director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies.
The Forest Service also failed to apply the legal protection required under the Endanger Species Act for grizzly bears. In fact it admits that its Forest Plan standard for areas outside the recovery zone are Management Situation 5, the lowest priority for grizzly bears. At the same time, it admits the project area is used by female grizzly bears with cubs. Dr. Sara Johnson, of Native Ecosystems Council in Three Forks, stated, “Mill Creek has already suffered significant impacts to grizzly bear habitat. This timber sale will displace grizzlies from over 5,000 acres of their habitat and could easily result in more dead grizzly bears. The Gallatin National Forest has seven timber sales planned in occupied habitat and they have not looked at the cumulative effects of this logging on grizzly bears,” Johnson concluded.