by The Associated Press
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Two environmental groups are suing the U.S. Forest Service over a planned logging project in north-central Idaho because they contend the logging will violate the Endangered Species Act.
Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Friends of the Clearwater filed the lawsuit against the Forest Service, agency officials and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Idaho’s U.S. District Court earlier this week. The groups say the government’s decision to allow logging on about 4 square miles of the Nez Perce National Forest was arbitrary and capricious and that the work will threaten some endangered species by destroying habitat for animals including Canada lynx, northern goshawks and bull trout.
The Little Slate Project includes just under 2 square miles of clear-cutting, according to the lawsuit. It’s planned for the Salmon River Ranger District of the Nez Perce National Forest. The project will also implement prescribed burns on 515 acres and other work.
The environmental group contends it will adversely affect the Little Slate Creek watershed and the Allison Creek and Kelly Creek watersheds, both of which are tributaries to the Salmon River.
The Forest Service has said the work would yield timber products, reduce wildfire fuels, help restore watersheds and manage roads.
The Fish and Wildlife Service has declared Canada lynx to be no longer present in the Nez Perce National Forest, according to the lawsuit. But the environmental groups maintain that the species was historically present in the region, and that Forest Service workers reported sighting a Canada lynx in July 2006 and November of 2010. The groups claim the federal agencies didn’t take those sightings under consideration when approving the logging plan.