Forest

Environmentalists have challenged a timber project in Northern Idaho.

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — An 18-square-mile forest project approved by the U.S. Forest Service in northern Idaho harms wildlife, two environmental groups say, and they have filed a lawsuit to stop it.

The Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Friends of the Clearwater filed the lawsuit Wednesday seeking to stop the Brebner Flat Project in the Idaho Panhandle National Forest.

Forest Service officials say the project includes logging and other treatments needed to improve forest health and lessen the severity of a potential wildfire.

The environmental groups said the Forest Service’s analysis of the project illegally failed to include the potential effects on grizzly bears or a wild and scenic river corridor.

“The Forest Service misrepresented the possible presence of endangered species in the project area, ignored the dire status of elk habitat in the area, and lied about whether there was a wild and scenic river corridor in the project area,” Mike Garrity, executive director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies, said in a statement.

Wyn Hornbuckle of the U.S. Department of Justice, which defends federal agencies against lawsuits, said the agency was reviewing the lawsuit and didn't offer a comment.

The Forest Service in an environmental analysis of the project said large fires in 1910 and 1934 along with fire suppression in following decades reduced the presence of white pine, western larch and Ponderosa pine.

The agency said those species were replaced with more shade-tolerant grand fir, Douglas fir and Lodgepole pine.

The agency said the current composition of the tree species in the project area doesn't reflect the forest plan and has made the forest more susceptible to insects and disease.

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