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Big Sky Connection - 

A federal judge in Missoula is holding a hearing Tuesday on a motion for an injunction to stop a large-scale logging project bordering Montana's Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness area. . Critics pf the project say it will devastate land and wildlife habitat, but supporters claim it will beat back wildfire danger and retain hard-won development projects in the pristine area. Comments from Mike Garrity, executive director, Alliance for the Wild Rockies. Pintler (PIN-tler)
Click on the image above for the audio.  The Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness is popular with hikers in Montana. (Adobe Stock)

Mark Moran

June 20, 2024 - A federal judge in Montana is holding a hearing next Tuesday on a motion for an injunction against the Pintler Face logging and burning project on Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest.

A coalition of conservationists and activists has sued to stop work altogether.

The Pintler project is located about 10 miles northwest of Wise River, Montana, and calls for bulldozing in 11 miles of new logging roads to gain access to 3,400 acres of clear-cuts, prescribed burns and logging of more than 560 acres of aspen. It would also log another 5,800 acres in a commercial segment of the project.

Mike Garrity, executive director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies, said all told, there could not be a more devastating spot for this type of project because it disrupts a continuous ecosystem he said lynx and grizzly bears need to thrive.

"If we want these species to eventually be recovered and removed from the Endangered Species List, we need to have one connected population to prevent inbreeding," Garrity explained.

Critics of the lawsuit and supporters of the Pintler project said it would make strides to preventing wildfires and also backtrack on years of economic development the state has made in the region.

Beyond the sheer size of the project and the devastation it would do to the Anaconda Pintler Wilderness ecosystem, Garrity argued critical wildlife habitat would be at risk and one of the world's most natural and efficient carbon sinks would be threatened.

"These are old-growth forests," Garrity pointed out. "One of the best things about old-growth forests in addition to providing great wildlife habitat is they absorb carbon and they do it for free. It's one of the most effective methods of pulling greenhouse gases from the atmosphere."

Garrity argued the U.S. Forest Service sidestepped a mandatory Environmental Impact Statement and a policy act by secretly removing lynx designations and pretended that 145 miles of roads in the project area were not there so the logging could go forward. It is important because most grizzlies are killed within a third of a mile of a road. The coalition wants the judge to stop all work on the area until the entire case is decided.