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Judge orders closer look at logging effects on species in Swan Valley land

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HELENA, Montana — A judge has ruled the U.S. government must better analyze how protected species would be affected before any more logging is done on about 111,000 acres The Nature Conservancy handed over to The U.S. Forest Service.

The land in the Swan Valley acquired in 2009 came with an agreement between the conservancy and the former owner, Plum Creek Timber Co., that allowed timber harvests through 2018.

Four environmental groups sued the Forest Service, saying the agency did not properly study the effects on protected animals, fish and plants in the area.

U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy ruled Thursday that the Forest Service must consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service before future logging projects in the area to ensure they meet the requirements of the Endangered Species Act.

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