A District Judge has dismissed a lawsuit conservation groups filed against the Flathead National Forest over logging projects in the South Fork Flathead River corridor. U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen sided with a Magistrate Judge who ruled in favor of the U.S. Forest Service and approved a pair of timber management projects in the Spotted Bear Ranger District.
Friends of the Wild Swan and Swan View Coalition filed suit in 2012 in U.S. District Court in Missoula in opposition to the Forest Service’s Soldier Addition II Project on the west side of the South Fork near the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex, and the Spotted Bear River Project, a logging proposal on the opposite side of the South Fork Flathead River.
The groups claimed the cumulative effects of the two logging projects would be harmful to imperiled fish and wildlife, including lynx and grizzly bears, and that the Forest Service failed to adequately analyze these impacts within the scope of the two projects. Their lawsuits claim violations of the National Environmental Policy Act, National Forest Management Act and Endangered Species Act.
Christensen, siding with U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah Lynch, disagreed with the groups’ claims, saying the Forest Service adhered to the requirements for analysis. Christensen handed down his decision Feb. 23.
The two timber projects have been the subject of scrutiny and litigation for over four years. The Forest Service withdrew its initial decision regarding Soldier Addition II in 2010 in response to an appeal. It was reauthorized in late 2011. The Soldier Addition II Project aims at harvesting 1,128 acres of timber “to improve long-term forest diversity and productivity, and to enhance the safety of visitors to recreation areas,” according to Forest Service documents.
From the Flathead Beacon: http://flatheadbeacon.com/2015/03/06/judge-dismisses-south-fork-logging-lawsuit/