A federal appeals court upheld a 2013 U.S. Forest Service plan to allow construction of logging roads in Montana’s Kootenai National Forces over the objections of environmentalists.
The logging plan called for construction of nearly five miles of logging road to engage in projects to prevent insect and disease in the forest and provide for commercial timber harvest to help the local economy.
The road construction comes in the area also designated as a Grizzly Bear Recovery area and the area has restricted motorized vehicle access in the Grizzly Bear zones.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday found the USFS interpretation of its own Forest Plan was reasonable and the Alliance for the Western Rockies failed to show violation of the Endangered Species Act, National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) or the National Forest Service Management Act.
In 2013, the USFS found the logging and road-building plan was unlikely to harm threatened grizzly bear population.
The court pointed to USFS plans to use berms, barriers and similar closure devices to prevent new roads to motorized access after the 5 mile road project is completed.
“We hold that it was not arbitrary and capricious for the Forest Service to conclude that roads closed to motorized access by berms or barriers do not count toward ‘linear miles of total roads,’” wrote Judge William Fletcher.
Case: Alliance for the Wild Rockies v. Bradford, No. 14-35786