Lolo Forest: No more fixes needed on Seeley-area timber sale

2013-01-19T05:50:00Z 2014-10-03T14:24:58Z Lolo Forest: No more fixes needed on Seeley-area timber saleBy ROB CHANEY of the Missoulian missoulian.com
January 19, 2013 5:50 am  • 

Lolo National Forest officials believe they have answered the legal questions holding up the Colt-Summit forest project near Seeley Lake, which could mean new logging and restoration work this summer.

But opponents of the highly publicized collaborative forest landscape project remain adamant the proposal will hurt endangered lynx and grizzly bears by failing to consider how it fits with other logging work in the area.

“I have found no reason to further supplement, correct or revise my March 25, 2011, decision,” Lolo Forest Supervisor Debbie Austin wrote this week. “I have made the determination that the project’s activities do not constitute a major federal action that would significantly affect the quality of the human environment, thus an environmental impact statement is not needed.”

Supporters hailed the Colt-Summit project as a model of collaboration among timber companies, environmental groups and the local community. It contains a five-year mix of logging, road decommissioning, wildlife habitat improvement, prescribed burning and recreation projects. They are located in a 4,330-acre swath between Lake Alva and Summit Lake, which divides the Seeley and Swan watersheds and provides a major wildlife corridor between the Swan and Mission mountain ranges.

The teamwork was supposed to avoid lawsuits and other delays of U.S. Forest Service decision-making. But a different coalition of environmental groups claimed the collaboration was a sham.

“We didn’t see any evidence the collaborators had any input on this until they came out with an environmental assessment or scoping notice,” said Arlene Montgomery of Friends of the Wild Swan. “The Forest Service brought this project to them and said this is what they want to do.”

The Friends of the Wild Swan, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Montana Ecosystem Defense Council and Native Ecosystems Council sued the Forest Service over the timber sale portion of the project. In 2011, U.S. District Judge Don Molloy ruled against the environmental groups on 11 of their 12 arguments. But he agreed with the 12th point that the Forest Service needed to better explain how it was handling lynx concerns.

“There’s more research data from collared lynx up there than any place else in the country,” said Gordy Sanders of Pyramid Mountain Lumber, one of the participants in crafting the project. “They know where corridors need to be, and the Forest Service had built that into their analysis. The judge sided with them on all that.”

Colt-Summit would provide Pyramid Mountain Lumber about two months’ worth of logs for its mill, Sanders said. It also would put a lot of local loggers and contractors to work on hazardous fuels treatments, road removal or repair, and other forest jobs.

“They have always tried to pursue projects that would essentially pay for themselves in a goods-for-services approach,” Sanders said. “We haven’t got to a contract stage yet, but I understand the plan is to have the rest of the project advertised as soon as March or April. That means no activity this spring, but this summer is when activity could begin.”

Western Environmental Law Center attorney Matt Bishop, who represented the project protesters, said he was disappointed Austin simply reaffirmed her old decision instead of issuing a new environmental assessment. But he said he needed time to review her decision before planning further legal action.

Reporter Rob Chaney can be reached at 523-5382 or at rchaney@missoulian.com.

Copyright 2015 missoulian.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

No Comments Posted.

Missoulian Civil Dialogue Policy

Civil Dialogue Policy for Commenting on Missoulian.com

We provide this community forum for readers to exchange ideas and opinions on the news of the day. Passionate views, pointed criticism and critical thinking are welcome. Comments can only be submitted by registered users. By posting comments on our site, you are agreeing to the following terms:

Commentary and photos submitted to the Missoulian (Missoulian.com) may be published or distributed in print, electronically or other forms. Opinions expressed in Missoulian.com's comments reflect the opinions of the author, and are not necessarily the opinions of the Missoulian or its parent company. See the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy for more information.

Our guidelines prohibit the solicitation of products or services, the impersonation of another site user, threatening or harassing postings and the use of vulgar, abusive, obscene or sexually oriented language, defamatory or illegal material. You may not post content that degrades others on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability or other classification. It's fine to criticize ideas, but ad hominem attacks on other site users are prohibited. Users who violate those standards may lose their privileges on missoulian.com.

You may not post copyrighted material from another publication. (Link to it instead, using a headline or very brief excerpt.)

No short policy such as this can spell out all possible instances of material or behavior that we might deem to be a violation of our publishing standards, and we reserve the right to remove any material posted to the site.

Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

Missoulian reporter Jenna Cederberg presents the latest news you need to know about today's headlines in ab…

Sidney tornado

Sidney tornado

Dexter Jensen shot this video of a tornado that touched down Tuesday near Sidney.

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

Missoulian reporter Martin Kidston presents the latest news you need to know about today's h…

Richard Sullivan reads a statement at his sentencing.

Richard Sullivan reads a statement at his sentencing.

Sullivan gives a statement at his sentencing.

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

Missoulian reporter Jenna Cederberg presents the latest news you need to know about today's …

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

Missoulian reporter Rob Chaney presents the latest news you need to know about today's headl…

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

Missoulian reporter Jenna Cederberg presents the latest news you need to know about today's …

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

Missoulian reporter Kate Haake presents the latest news you need to know about today's headl…

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

Missoulian reporter Martin Kidston presents the latest news you need to know about today's h…

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

Missoulian reporter Martin Kidston presents the latest news you need to know about today's h…

Deals & Offers

loading...

Search our events calendar