Lawsuit seeks to stop juniper-removal project in E. Idaho

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BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Environmental groups say a U.S. Forest Service plan to improve wildlife habitat in eastern Idaho will do the opposite and takes an illegal shortcut around environmental laws.

Alliance for the Wild Rockies and two other groups filed a lawsuit in federal court last week seeking to halt the Rowley Canyon Wildlife Enhancement Project in Bannock County.

The Forest Service in June approved the project that would remove more than half of the juniper trees on about 1,300 acres (525 hectares) and remove shrubs on another 400 acres (160 hectares).

Federal officials say that will improve habitat for deer, elk and grouse.

The environmental groups say it instead will allow cheatgrass and other invasive plants to move in and destroy good habitat.

The U.S. Department of Justice, which defends federal agencies in lawsuits, didn't immediately respond to an inquiry from The Associated Press.

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