Bitterroot National Forest ordered to review trail management plan changes

Posted at 5:17 PM, Jul 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-03 19:17:06-04

HAMILTON – It’s not any help to snowmobilers and ATVs, but a federal court ruling may give mountain bike riders another shot at keeping some wilderness trails open on the Bitterroot National Forest.

A couple of years ago, the Bitterroot National Forest adopted its Travel Management Plan, which closed trails in the Sapphire and Blue Joint Wilderness Study Areas to "mechanized" use, in keeping with recent court rulings about WSAs.

But the Bitterroot Ridge Runners Snowmobile Club and others challenged the rules in federal court.

Now, the ruling from U.S. District Court Judge Dana Christensen is ordering the Forest Service to take a second look at some of those restrictions.

The ruling won’t overturn the ban on snowmobiles on more than 200,00 acres in the Bitterroot WSAs. However, Christensen says the Forest Service "abused its discretion" by not allowing more comments after expanding the number of trails that would be closed to bikes and is telling the agency to review that process.