HAMILTON – Bitterroot National Forest leaders are re-starting a comment period on the issue of allowing mountain bikes into two Wilderness Study Areas after confusion arose over who could make comments.
The additional process comes in response to U.S. District Court Judge Dana Christensen’s ruling last summer instructing the Forest Service to allow more comments on the specific question of mountain bikes under the Bitterroot Travel Plan.
The Travel Plan closed an additional 62-miles of trails on the Sapphire and Blue Joint WSAs to ATVs, snowmobiles and mountain bikes. Christensen ruled the Forest Service had changed the mountain bike rules after closing the public comment period.
However, that’s raised some questions about who’s qualified to comment on the issue. So today, Bitterroot National Forest said it would allow “all interested individuals and organizations to comment”, regardless of whether they had commented before.
The new comment period only covers the question of mountain bike use, with the deadline for providing input set for November 19.
Objections mailed or hand delivered must be submitted to the Reviewing Official by one of the following methods:
- Mail: Objection Reviewing Official, USDA Forest Service, 26 Fort Missoula Road, Missoula, MT 59804.
- Fax: (406) 329-3411
- email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Hand delivered objections must be delivered between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. weekdays, excluding holidays.
Objections should include:
- Objectors name, address, phone number, and organization represented, if any
- Title of project on which the objections are being submitted along with the name of the national forest.
- A description of those aspects of the proposed project addressed by the objection, including specific issues related to the proposed project; if applicable, how the objector believes the environmental analysis or decision specifically violates law, regulation, or policy; suggested remedies that would resolve the objection.
- objectors signature.
Please put “Bitterroot Travel Plan Objection” in the subject line for emailed objections. An automated response will confirm that your electronic objection has been received. All objections are open to public inspection and will be posted to the Forest Service website.
The Travel Management Plan Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and Record of Decision (ROD) are available online at https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=21183. Please refer to pages 24-25 of the Record of Decision (ROD) for the decision maker’s rationale for closing WSAs to mountain bikes. The site also contains a detailed description of trails/miles closed to bicycles in WSAs.
For more information or questions, please contact Amy Fox, Environmental Coordinator, 1801 N. First Street, Hamilton, MT 59840 or (406) 363-7100.