Federal judge quizzes lawyers in Flathead National Forest plan lawsuit

By Keila Szpaller
News From The States
February 22, 2024
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

When should a road count as a road? Grizzly bears avoid roads — even ones that aren’t used by motor vehicles. So the Flathead National Forest is supposed to limit road density on forest land for that threatened species – and bull trout benefit, too. But a forest plan’s descriptions of roads — as “decommissioned” or “closed” or “impassable” — were one subject of arguments made this week in U.S. District Court in Missoula before Judge Kathleen DeSoto. In the case, conservation groups allege the U.S. Forest Service and Fish and Wildlife Service are again failing to protect grizzly bears and bull trout by skirting a tried and true way to account for roads. A lawyer for the Swan View Coalition and Friends of the Wild Swan said the agencies haven’t properly considered the displacement of bears or impacts to bull trout in a new forest plan with a new category of road.

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