Court rules Flathead forest plan fails grizzlies, bull trout

June 28, 2021 GMT

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A federal judge said a management plan for the Flathead National Forest failed to adequately protect imperiled grizzly bears and bull trout, but he’s leaving the plan in place while officials review their policies.

The ruling from U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy will allow several planned timber harvest projects on the 3,750-square mile (9,700 square kilometer) forest to proceed, the Missoulian reported.

The development came in a 2019 lawsuit from environmental groups who alleged that allowing new road building in the forest could harm threatened species like grizzly bears.

Molloy agreed that the Fish and Wildlife Service did not properly analyze how the plan for the forest could harm grizzlies and trout.

But the judge said shutting down timber projects could have yielded severe economic damages to local communities, and that the new forest plan was better than a previous one from 1986.