Michael Garrity, (406) 459-5936
Dr. Sara Johnson, (406) 285-3611
Two conservation groups, the Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Native Ecosystems Council filed a lawsuit today in Federal District Court in Missoula against the U.S Forest Service and Regional Forester Abigail Kimbell and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to stop the Main Boulder Timber Sale which authorizes logging on approximately 2500 acres and the building of 7.4 miles of new roads along the Boulder River south of Big Timber Montana. The groups contend the Forest Service ignored their own scientists’ advice on how to best protect people from wildfire and that the proposed logging and herbicide spraying will harm people, fish and wildlife.
The Main Boulder River Corridor consists of a strip of non-wilderness, National Forest land approximately 24 miles long and one-half mile wide. The Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, which encompasses approximately 1,000,000 acres, borders the river corridor for about two-thirds of its length.
Michael Garrity, Executive Director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies said, “The Forest Service ignored their own expert’s advice to only log around homes and church camps. Instead the Gallatin National Forest proposed to log 2500 acres in a futile attempt to fire proof the Main Boulder river canyon. The Forest Service’s own fire experts reported forest fuel reductions can only be very effectively accomplished over relatively small areas (10’s of acres) but is impractical and ecologically inappropriate for the Boulder ecosystems.”
Dr. Sara Johnson, a former wildlife biologist for the Gallatin National Forest and Director of Native Ecosystems Council said, “The project area is within occupied grizzly bear habitat. Recent government surveys, which the Forest Service ignored, show that there are two sow-cub pairs living in the Main Boulder river canyon area. This timber sale will result in dead grizzly bears in violation of the Endangered Species Act and the Gallatin Forest Plan which prohibits building new roads in grizzly bear habitat. The proposed logging will also harm lynx, northern goshawks and wolverines and create a 24 mile long wildlife barrier in the middle of a wilderness area.”
Garrity concluded, “The Forest Service wants to log old growth forests along the Main Boulder River at a cost to taxpayer of over $3 million. The Forest Service’s own rules state this river should be managed as a wild and scenic river not a tree farm. This timber sale will also release dangerous levels of herbicides and sediments into this wild river. It is bad public policy to spend millions of dollars on a project which will hurt the Yellowstone cutthroat trout. The American people deserve better from their public servants.”