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Enviros Sue Over Bull Trout Habitat
Associated Press
December 16, 2004

GRANTS PASS, Ore. - Two Montana environmental groups have filed a federal lawsuit challenging the Bush administration's decision to cut habitat protection for bull trout by 90 percent.

They contend the administration relied on uncertain local protections, ignored economic benefits of restoring fish, and did not consider the best science.

The Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Friends of the Wild Swan, two Montana environmental groups filed the lawsuit Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Portland. It seeks an injunction to compel Fish and Wildlife to designate adequate habitat for bull trout, allowing the bull trout to be removed from threatened and endangered species lists.

This is the latest development in a continuing fight between environmental groups and the Bush administration over enforcement of the Endangered Species Act, particularly the provision that calls for earmarking habitat critical to getting a species off the threatened or endangered species lists.

Fish and Wildlife spokesman Phil Carroll said he could not comment on a pending lawsuit, but the agency believes its limited budget is better spent on getting more declining species on the lists than on designating critical habitat for species already protected.

Bull trout are found around the Pacific Northwest and Northern Rockies in clear, cold mountain streams and lakes. Biologists say their numbers have declined dramatically over the past century due to logging, roadbuilding, dams, mining, grazing and urban development.

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