HELENA, Mont. – Groups that sued the Forest Service to halt a logging project in the Gallatin National Forest in southern Montana have sued again, reasserting the project jeopardizes habitat for elk and sensitive species such as Yellowstone cutthroat trout.
The Alliance for the Wild Rockies, the Native Ecosystems Council and a property owner in the area of the 692-acre Smith Creek Timber Sale, in the Crazy Mountains about 35 miles north of Livingston, filed the suit Friday in Missoula.
Last October, U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy of Missoula blocked the sale, but found the Forest Service had “complied with the law for the most part.” Molloy set forth requirements for the agency to satisfy before the sale could continue. The new suit in federal court says the requirements have not been met.
“We look forward to clearing up these last issues so we can move forward with this important project,” Forest Service spokeswoman Rose Davis said Monday in response to the new lawsuit.
The Forest Service said last year that the logging was planned as a way to reduce fire risk to the public and firefighters, particularly where the Gallatin National Forest is near private land, and to improve evacuation.
The suit seeks a court order that the Smith Creek project be withdrawn or that the Forest Service be ordered to complete a full environmental impact statement.