Federal agency approval of a logging plan in protected habitat for the threatened grizzly bear in Montana, a federal appeals court has ruled.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected environmental claims by the Alliance for the Wild Rockies that the U.S. Forest Service and Fish and Wildlife Service violated two environmental laws by approving a logging project in the Kootenai National Forest.
The panel said the agencies conducted adequate reviews of the impacts of post-and-pole logging, logging outside the recovery zone, oversized clearcut logging and the use of helicopters during the project.
The agencies found the logging plan did not violate the Endangered Species Act (ESA) or the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the appeals court agreed.
“The agencies’ analyses of these potential impacts were rationally related to their no-adverse effects conclusion,” the panel wrote in a non-precedent-setting decision Thursday.
During the course of the logging, the recovery zone would displace bears from nearly 18,000 acreas, but only a portion of these acres would be unavailable at any given time, the court said.
The memorandum order was signed by Judges Raymond Fisher, Richard Paez and Connie Callahan.
Case: Alliance for the Wild Rockies v. Ashe, No. 14-35936