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MN considers 'organizing' protections for renters; Nikki Haley says 'I have a duty' to stay in race despite latest loss to Trump; MT teachers' union files pair of 'school choice' lawsuits.

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Donald Trump wins the South Carolina primary, but there's mixed feelings about what a second Trump term could mean and President Biden addresses border issues with governors.

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David meets Goliath in Idaho pesticide conflict, to win over Gen Z voters, candidates are encouraged to support renewable energy and rural America needs help from Congress to continue affordable internet programs.

Court Orders Forest Service to Reconsider Closed Logging Roads

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Friday, August 18, 2023   

A federal judge has ordered the U.S. Forest Service to look again at the effectiveness of road closures in Montana's Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest.

Advocates said the closures are not effective and may be harming grizzly bears. The Alliance for the Wild Rockies filed suit in federal court in 2021, claiming the Forest Service did not consult with Fish and Wildlife about the impacts illegal motorized road use has on grizzly bears. The Alliance contends even though old logging roads have been officially closed, hunters and others routinely drive around slipshod barricades.

Mike Garrity, executive director of the group, said people and motorized vehicles drive grizzly bears, who learn to avoid traffic, out of their optimal habitat.

"And grizzlies end up going to suboptimal habitat higher up in the mountains," Garrity explained. "Where there's not as much food and there's less chance for cubs to survive."

Garrity noted most grizzly bears are killed within one-third of a mile of a road and argued the Forest Service has claimed for years thousands of miles of logging roads are closed, when in fact they are not.

Garrity added the use restrictions are in place to protect wildlife from motorized vehicles on the roads. The Forest Service is legally required to have accurate determinations of motorized use and road density restrictions to protect grizzly bears as well as other road-sensitive wildlife like elk and wolverines.

"It's all a house of cards, because the road closures aren't effective," Garrity contended. "There's way less secure grizzly bear habitat than what the Forest Service claims on paper."

The court order applies only to the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest, but Garrity thinks it could set precedent for other areas.

Disclosure: The Alliance for the Wild Rockies contributes to our fund for reporting on Endangered Species and Wildlife, and the Environment. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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