HAMILTON – A federal judge is clarifying a recent ruling on the Bitterroot Travel Plan, saying trails remain off limit to mountain bikes while the US Forest Service reviews public comment on revising the plan.
The Bitterroot Travel Plan which was approved two years ago included provisions that closed trails in the Sapphire and Blue Joint Wilderness Study Areas to motorized use. The plan limited over-the-snow travel by snowmobiles, and also shut down some areas to mountain bikes.
U.S. District Court Judge Dana Christensen ordered the USFS earlier this summer to take a second look at the mountain bike question, saying the agency had made changes outside of a public comment period.
That ruling raised questions as to whether mountain bikes were banned on the WSA trails this summer. Judge Christensen has now clarified his ruling saying that he didn’t “vacate” the prohibition against bikes, so the WSA trails are still closed.
Bitterroot National Forest officials are preparing a second public comment period to comply with the court order, but will only be looking at the mountain bike issue, not the other regulations in the Bitterroot Travel Plan.