A federal judge has temporarily blocked a timber project near West Yellowstone, siding with environmental groups that say the project will eliminate important wildlife habitat.

U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen Wednesday issued a temporary restraining order blocking the U.S. Forest Service from carrying out its North Hebgen Multiple Resource project, which the agency had hoped would move forward this summer. Native Ecosystems Council and Alliance for the Wild Rockies sued over the project in May, arguing it was proposed under a flawed amendment to forest regulations.

In the order, Christensen wrote that the Forest Service had not responded to the plaintiff’s motion for a restraining order and that the order was needed to prevent the timber work from going forward until a hearing can be held on the groups’ request for an injunction. The restraining order will last a little more than three weeks and a hearing is set for late July.

Sara Johnson, of Native Ecosystems Council, said Thursday that she was happy about the decision, which prevents logging work that she believes will harm important grizzly bear habitat.

“North Hebgen has a reprieve for a while,” Johnson said.

The Forest Service did not respond to a request for comment.

Approved by the Forest Service in 2017, the timber project consists of 5,670 acres split between lands north of Hebgen Lake and on the Horse Butte Peninsula. Parts of it are meant to reduce the risk of intense wildfires near homes while others are focused on restoring certain tree species such as white bark pines and aspen.

It also includes thinning near Rainbow Point Campground to increase visibility and prevent run-ins between campers and grizzly bears. About 15.6 miles of temporary roads would be built for the work.

Some of the work was to begin this year. Forest officials estimated the entire project would take between eight and 12 years.

Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Native Ecosystems Council sued over the project in May, arguing that a sweeping amendment to the forest plan had eliminated too many regulations and violated the Endangered Species Act. They argue that the Forest Service needs to conduct formal consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the amendment and how it relates to habitat for Canada lynx.

Michael Wright can be reached at mwright@dailychronicle.com or at 582-2638. Follow him on Twitter @mj_wright1.