The Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Michael Garrity, (406) 459-5936
Native Ecosystems Council, Sara Johnson, (406) 285-3611
The Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Native Ecosystems Council and The Ecology Center announced today that they won their appeal stopping the Windmill Timber Sale in the Gallatin National Forest. The Deputy Regional Forester, Kathleen McAllister reversed the Gallatin National Forest Supervisor’s decision to implement the Windmill Timber sale because it failed to provide a reasonable range of alternatives that meet the purpose and need for the project.
The Windmill project called 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 revealed the Windmill timber sale would have lost $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 would have done 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 would have displaced grizzlies from over 5000 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 logging on grizzly bears,” Johnson concluded.