KALISPELL – The Swan View CoalitionWildEarth Guardians and Friends of the Wild Swan warned the U.S. Forest Service on Nov. 15 of their intent to file suit under the Endangered Species Act in order to protect the threatened Bull Trout.

The groups state that the USFS’s management of logging roads on the Flathead National Forest has threatened the trout species through culvert failures.

Culverts are a structure that allows water to flow under a road from one side to the other for the animals. When the culverts aren’t maintained properly they can easily clog and eventually erupt, breaking the road above and sending debris into the stream.

When road sediment is sent into the trout’s habitat it can destroy their eggs and prevent young fish from growing. Big Creek, Coal Creek, Jim Creek, Goat Creek and Swan Lake are among some of the bodies of water affected.

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Keith Hammer, the chairman of the Swan View Coalition, one of the three groups threatening to sue, said he hopes the issue can be resolved without a lawsuit.

“The most favorable outcome here is that we don’t end up having to sue. Mainly what we’re asking the Forest Service to do here is live up to its prior promises. It already promised to do this and yes it has failed to do so, so we’re just saying ‘step up to the plate and do your duty that you promised to the public,'” said Hammer.

The USFS has 60 days from the Nov. 15 announcement to decide whether they will address the groups concerns or fight the lawsuit.

MTN’s Jack Ginsburg