Forest Service wants judge to lift injunction on Bozeman timber project

Snow falls lightly on pine trees in the Bozeman Municipal Watershed, south of Bozeman on Friday. Rachel Leathe, Chronicle

By Michelle Wright

Federal officials believe they’ve done what a judge asked and should be able to begin a timber project on public land south of Bozeman, but the environmentalists who stopped the project still disagree.

The U.S. Forest Service earlier this fall asked U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen to lift the injunction blocking the Bozeman Municipal Watershed and East Boulder projects, two projects meant to reduce wildfire fuel. The East Boulder Project is southeast of Big Timber, while the Bozeman project is south of town in the creek drainages that provide the city’s water.

In a brief arguing for the injunction to be lifted, federal attorneys said the Forest Service followed the judge’s order to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the projects’ potential impacts to critical habitat for Canada lynx, a large cat listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The reviews found the projects were “not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of lynx” or destroy critical habitat, according to the brief.