An environmental group is suing for a second time to stop a timber sale in the Hebgen Basin.
On Wednesday, the Alliance for the Wild Rockies and the Native Ecosystems Council filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Missoula to stop the Forest Service from moving forward on its Lonesome Wood II Timber Sale.
The area covered by the timber sale is along the western and southern shores of Hebgen Lake. The Forest Service initiated the project, saying logging would safeguard area cabins from wildfires.
But Mike Garrity of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies said some of the proposed logging is in roadless areas away from the cabins. The Forest Service would build six miles of logging roads and log 400 acres of designated old growth forest.
Both groups claim the old growth areas are habitat for lynx, grizzly bears and wolverines, all of which are rare.
The Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service both determined in an assessment that logging would adversely affect grizzlies and lynx.
Garrity said the groups don’t oppose all the logging in that area, just the old growth sections.
“Their own fire expert says to start at the structures and work out, clearing the trees to create a defensible space, and they’re not doing that,” Garrity said.
This isn’t the first challenge for this area. The Forest Service proposed a similar sale but dropped the sale after Alliance for the Wild Rockies sued in 2009.
Garrity said the Forest Service loses money on timber sales, because it is usually unable to get enough money for the logs to cover its costs.
“Right now, when the government is authorizing less spending with the sequester, timber sales cost the taxpayer,” Garrity said.
Laura Lundquist can be reached at 582-2638 or email@example.com.