BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A federal judge has ruled that the U.S. Forest Service didn't properly consider how exploratory drilling for a potential open-pit molybdenum mine could harm a rare plant found in central Idaho mountains.

U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge in his ruling Monday halting the drilling directed the federal agency to re-evaluate the potential harm to Sacajawea's bitterroot. About 80 percent of the known population of the small, ground-hugging perennial is in the Boise National Forest where a Canadian mining company says the largest unmined deposit of molybdenum in the world is also located.

The Idaho Conservation League and two other groups that sued welcomed the ruling as a protection for the Boise River watershed. Vancouver, British Columbia-based American CuMo Mining Corp. didn't return a call from The Associated Press on Tuesday.

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