contact Michael Garrity, Executive Director, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, (406) 459-5936
Two conservation groups, the Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Native Ecosystems Council filed a lawsuit this morning in Federal District Court in Missoula against the U.S. Forest Service and Regional Forester Tom Tidwell to stop the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest’s Barton Springs Timber Sale. On February 21, 2008, Pintler District Ranger Charlene Bucha Gentry signed the Barton Springs Thinning Decision Memo authorizing logging, slashing and burning on 163 acres and construction of skid roads, skid trails, log landings and other access route infrastructure approximately 18 miles northwest of Phillipsburg, Montana.
Dr. Sara Johnson, a former wildlife biologist for the Gallatin National Forest and Director of Native Ecosystems Council said, “The proposed logging, combined with prior logging of adjacent lands, will result in a much larger area that is essentially devoid of flammulated owl and great gray owl nesting habitat. The flammulated owl and great gray owl has been identified as a Montana species of special concern because of limited and declining numbers and habitat.”
Johnson said, “The Barton Springs project will harm these old growth depend owls because they need the large dead trees found in old growth forests for nesting. Flammulated and great gray owls depend on an abundance of large snags and a relatively dense under-story found in old ponderosa pine forests and Douglas fir forests. The Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest has logged 63,000 acres of these low elevation old growth forests and there is now little left for these owls and their viability has been determined to be at risk.”
Johnson concluded, “The direct and cumulative loss of habitat for the flammulated and great gray owls was not analyzed. The Forest Service needs to pull this project to comply with the law and do a more extensive environmental assessment rather that a categorical exclusion where they did hardly any analysis.”
Michael Garrity, Executive Director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies said, “The Forest Service treats this forest like a crop of trees not a forest. This isn’t farming; it is subsidized mining of wildlife habitat. It is not sustainable. It takes hundreds of years to create the giant old snags these owls require.”