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Bitterroot NF to announce process for comments on travel plan - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Bitterroot NF to announce process for comments on travel plan

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HAMILTON - Bitterroot National Forest Supervisor Julie King says she’s “very pleased overall” with a recent judge’s ruling over the Bitterroot Travel Management Plan, even though the agency must take a second look at a ban on mountain bike use.

The plan was adopted in 2016 after years of development and tens of thousands of comments. It closed trails in the Blue Joint and Sapphire Wilderness Study Areas to all motorized use, as well as mountain bikes.

But a couple of weeks ago, U.S. District Court Judge Dana Christensen ruled the Forest Service “abused its discretion” by not allowing more public comments after expanding the number of trails that would be closed to mountain bikes.

Christensen let the rules on ATVs and snowmobiles stand, and King says her staff is preparing to allow the additional public comment on the bike issue and will release details on that process shortly.

“In the ruling, Judge Christensen also said that we did not provide an adequate objection response period regarding the closure of trails in Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs) to bicycles.  We are currently working on providing this objection opportunity, and will have more information to share soon regarding this process,” said King.

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