HELENA (AP) — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit seeking to block a tree-thinning project in the Elkhorn Mountains near Helena.
U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen on Monday rejected arguments by Native Ecosystems Council and Montana Ecosystem Defense Council that the project conflicts with the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest plan and needs deeper environmental analysis.
Christensen wrote that the project is minimalist in scope and that the U.S. Forest Service made a reasonable decision to approve it after considering the relevant factors.
The project proposes hand slashing or prescribed burning where needed across more than 13,000 acres.
The goal is to improve foraging and habitat for several animals, including elk, deer, moose, trout and birds.