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, The Ecology Center and Native Ecosystems Council announced today that the Forest Service withdrew their decision to clearcut 850 acres of roadless land in the upper Big Hole watershed and dump tons of sediment into streams on the Lewis and Clark Trail. The conservation groups filed a complaint in Federal District court to stop this project on September 26, 2003.
The State of Montana has found that the North Fork of the Big Hole and its tributaries (Johnson, Mussigbrod, Trail, and Tie Creeks) are not meeting water quality standards due to sediment pollution from logging.
“Instead of working on stabilizing soils in the Big Hole watershed, the Beaverhead National Forest wanted to clearcut 850 acres of roadless lands with both dead and green trees at a cost to taxpayers of over $ 1,000,000, and dump more sediment into the Big Hole watershed. Taxpayers should be happy the Forest Service decided to follow the law stated Michael Garrity, Executive Director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies. The Beaverhead National Forest Post-Fire Environmental Impact Statement found that the Beaverhead N.F. would have lost $1,018,800 on this project.
Forest Service studies have shown roadless areas provide clean drinking water and function as biological strongholds for populations of threatened and endangered species. “The Forest Service knew it was breaking the law when they proposed clearcutting these roadless lands,” stated John Walden, a Butte fisherman and Alliance board member. “I am glad they came to their senses but they never should have proposed this illegal clearcut in the first place,” Walden concluded.