The Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Native Ecosystems Council filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Missoula to stop the Rendezvous Trails timber sale on the Gallatin National Forest. The sale calls for thinning lodgepole pine along ski trails on the forest.
The litigants allege that the Forest Service acted too quickly in categorically excluding the timber sale from analysis and review, including public comment and appeals under the National Environmental Policy Act. The 2014 Farm Bill allows timber sales up to 3,000 acres in forests designated as unhealthy because of disease or insect infestation. The groups say the categorical exclusion for the Rendezvous Trails came before the secretary of agriculture formally designated the area. “Our position is they jumped the gun,” Mike Garrity, executive director for the Alliance for the Wild Rockies, told the Helena Independent-Record.
Keith Olson, executive director of the Montana Logging Association (and FFRC Policy Committee member), called the groups “notorious serial litigators.” “Until a seemingly sympathetic Judiciary stops rewarding them with obscene amounts of taxpayer dollars, they will continue their obstructionist ways,” he said. “Rendezvous Trails would appear to be a fuels reduction and community protection project, yet the litigants would have you believe the resultant project will resemble the American equivalent of Chernobyl.”