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Judge blocks plan to change grizzly habitat designation on state land in western Montana


HELENA, Montana — A federal judge has blocked a plan that would have led to more roads and increased logging on state trust land in western Montana that is designated secure habitat for threatened grizzly bears.

The 36,700 acres in the Stillwater State Forest is managed as secure core habitat for grizzlies, with restrictions such as a ban on roads closer than a third of a mile away.

The state Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sought to re-designate the area to help the state department generate more revenue from the lands.

Three environmental groups sued to block the plan.

U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy ruled Thursday the analysis on the effects on grizzly habitat fell short of what is required in the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

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