Groups File Lawsuit over Bitterroot Forest Recreation Plan

Seven groups argue officials ignored key public input and violated existing statutes and policies regarding motorized travel

MISSOULA — A number of multiple-use recreation groups have filed a lawsuit in hopes of forcing the Bitterroot National Forest to redraw its travel plan.

The Missoulian reports that in a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Missoula, seven groups argue Bitterroot Forest officials ignored key public input and violated existing statutes and policies in developing the plan that establishes where motorized travel is allowed.

That plan was signed in May after more than nine years of development considering 13,400 comments. It shut off thousands of acres to snowmobilers, ATV riders and mountain bikers.

The groups that filed suit include the Bitterroot Ridge Runners Snowmobile Club, Ravalli County Off-Road User Association, Bitterroot Backcountry Cyclists, Montana Trail Vehicle Riders Association, Montana Snowmobile Association, Citizens for Balanced Use and Backcountry Sled Patriots.

  • Concerned Citizen

    Have you ever seen what the “trail riders” do to the forest’s natural deer trails and paths, or to the forrest terrain in general? They tear it to shreds, then laugh about it.
    These guys should never be allowed to destroy the forest land as they always do, without regard for anything or anyone else in their path. You will be amazed at their attitude, if you ever encounter them while out on a trail hike, the most rude jerks on the planet.
    At least we will still have a forest if this “association” of motorized terrorists are kept at bay.

    • RockyMountainHunter47

      Motorists in Montana cannot run around at random on state, federal, school trust, and block management land. It’s illegal to go on any road, trail, or water way not designated for motorists and is clearly posted and the majority follow these laws. I for one have never seen this occur and would certainly turn in any offender. These groups are very responsive as the do not wish to loose access to what little access they have. Quit feeding lies to the masses.

      • Concerned Citizen

        Tell that to the five a-hole dirt bikers that almost ran me and my daughter off the strawberry lake trail. They were loud, inconsiderate, and dangerous.
        You stop lying to the masses.

        • RockyMountainHunter47

          That’s not enough to condemn all motorists just because you had one bad experience does not mean every single person on a ATV, Bike, or Snow Cat is the same.

          • Concerned Citizen

            That might be an issue the off road “motorists” will have to deal with before they can get the approval of other forest users. Last June my wife and I were hiking up to Jenny Lake to do some fishing, the trail is Kelly humped, so there should not be any dirt bikes using the trail. We were passed by two dirt bikes going bonkers up the trail. About 40 minutes later they passed us again going back down except their engines were off. After they passed we quickly realized one of them had crashed and burst his fuel tank because he leaked fuel onto the trail for over a half mile. The fuel did not seem to be evaporating and it was very nauseating to hike while breathing that stuff. I believe this type of encounter is all too typical when dealing with the motorized, off road, crowd. Not everyone gets (favorably) excited by seeing someone doing a wheelie at 20 mph while out on a pristine forest trail. I have had many more “bad experiences” with them, but I’m sure you don’t really care about that.
            They are very uncaring, polluting, and destructive to the trail system.
            Why do they have to destroy every place they ride?

          • RockyMountainHunter47

            Kelly hump does not mean no access check an FS map and see if the trail has motorized access. So far you have mentioned the Jewel basin area but you have not produced any real evidence from your first comment. You have had possibly two bad experiences that if occurred were rude and not respecting other public land users and is unfortunate but totally banning every recreational motorist is selfish and being prejudice to certain groups. Perhaps checking in to a forest officer about the incident and sending a letter to a local motorist group would have yeilded far greater benefits and understanding then writing a comment based on ones emotions.