by The Associated Press
HELENA — A federal judge has temporarily blocked the U.S. Forest Service from starting three timber projects in a northwestern Montana forest, saying the work could harm the grizzly bear population there.
U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy signed the 28-day temporary restraining order on Wednesday halting the projects in the Kootenai National Forest while he reviews the case. The judge says the Forest Service wants to build or reopen several miles of roads as part of the projects. In his order, he refers to a study that says roads threaten the survival or grizzly bears.
There are an estimated 45 Cabinet-Yaak grizzly bears in the region. The Forest Service said Friday that it is preparing a response and it believes the projects should go forward.