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Mike Garrity

Montana’s Paradise Valley is aptly named, sitting between two towering mountain ranges, it cradles the mighty Yellowstone River that flows from its headwaters in America’s first national park and provides critical habitat to the native species still present 200 years after Lewis and Clark’s expedition.

Yet, the Forest Service decided to expand cattle grazing on six allotments on the valley’s east side, including in a grizzly bear recovery zone. It is a formula for destruction of native vegetation, sedimentation in cutthroat spawning streams, and dead wolves and bears — which is why Western Environmental Law Center is representing the Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Native Ecosystems Council, Western Watersheds Project and other conservation groups in a lawsuit filed in federal district court in Montana on Sept. 12 to challenge the agency’s decision.