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Bitterroot Ridge Runners Snowmobile Club v. United States Forest Service

ELR Citation: 48 ELR 20110
Nos. CV 16-158-M-DLC, (D. Mont., 06/29/2018) (Christensen, J.)

A district court granted in part and denied in part outdoor groups' motion for summary judgment seeking injunctive relief from the U.S. Forest Service's Travel Plan for the Bitterroot National Forest (Travel Plan), which prohibits motorized and bicycle travel in wilderness study areas (WSA) within the forest. Snowmobile, off-road vehicle, and mountain bike groups argued that the Forest Service violated the National Forest Management Act, the Montana Wilderness Study Act, NEPA, and the APA when it adopted the Travel Plan. The court largely disagreed, finding that the groups failed to show that the Forest Service's actions to ban motorized vehicles from WSA trails were arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with the law. The court did, however, find that the Forest Service abused its discretion when it failed to provide an opportunity for public comment on the closure of 110 miles of WSA trails to bicyclists. The court therefore granted in part and denied in part the groups' motion for summary judgment, and remanded the matter of WSA closure to bicyclists to the Forest Service for further consideration.