Lawsuit Launched To Protect Grizzlies & Lynx From Forest Clearcutting Project Near Yellowstone National Park

Conservation groups filed a formal notice of their intent to sue the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for approving a massive timber sale on the border of Yellowstone National Park that would destroy habitat for grizzly bears, lynx, and other embattled wildlife.

The South Plateau project proposes to clearcut more than 5,500 acres of pine forest in the Custer-Gallatin National Forest. The project also calls for logging on an additional 9,000 acres and bulldozing up to 56 miles of roads, many through mature, old-growth forests.

“This reckless project was approved without considering its threats to grizzly bears, lynx, and other wildlife,” said Kristine Akland, Northern Rockies director and senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The fragile Yellowstone ecosystem surrounding this iconic national park is vital for Montana’s rich biodiversity and climate. This project must be stopped before our beautiful backcountry forests are bulldozed.”

The Forest Service approved the logging project without identifying the locations, timing or scope of the logging units or roads. Instead, the agency said it will make those decisions when crews are on the ground, which inhibits analysis of potential harm to protected species and prevents public involvement.

“The Forest Service needs to drop the South Plateau project and quit clearcutting old-growth forests,” said Mike Garrity, executive director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies. “Especially clearcutting and bulldozing new logging roads in grizzly habitat on the border of Yellowstone National Park.”

The project allows for significantly more logging and road building than is authorized by the Custer-Gallatin Forest plan. The notice also says that the South Plateau project will destroy and remove thousands of acres of habitat for grizzly bears and lynx, which are both listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

The plan conflicts with President Biden’s pledge to protect old-growth and mature forests and trees, an important climate solution because they absorb and store tons of carbon.

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