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Recreation Groups Settle Illegal Wilderness Lawsuit

October 06, 2014 2:48 PM
ISSA and BRC Settle Illegal Wilderness Lawsuit
Idaho State Snowmobile Association and the BlueRibbon Coalition settle illegal Wilderness lawsuit.

BOISE, ID (October 6, 2014)--A newly-filed settlement agreement would withdraw restrictions on motorized and mechanized access to "Recommended Wilderness" Areas (RWA) in Idaho's Clearwater National Forest. The settlement comes in a lawsuit filed in 2012 by the Idaho State Snowmobile Association and the BlueRibbon Coalition, which alleged that the Northern Region of the Forest Service (FS) created an internal "recommended wilderness policy" that illegally limited management options. In the settlement, the Forest Service "dispute[s] Plaintiffs' claims" but acknowledges "that regional issuance of documents described as guidance for forest planning, including planning for RWA management, has led to confusion and misperception regarding the role that such documents serve with respect to FS planning, including motorized travel planning..."

The FS commits in the settlement to issue a new decision that will govern motorized and over snow access management to RWAs. The agreement states the FS will endeavor to implement a new decision before the 2014-2015 winter season. In the absence of such a new decision, management will revert "to previous management direction" which has authorized snowmobile, motorcycle and mountain bike access to some portions of these remote areas, particularly including the "Great Burn" along the north central Idaho-Montana border.

"We are pleased by this development," stated Sandra Mitchell, Public Lands Director of the Idaho State Snowmobile Association, the lead plaintiff.  "The concern over administratively designated wilderness will likely continue, but at least in this case the Service is agreeing to reconsider what we contend was an illegal expansion of the agency's role," Mitchell concluded.

The settlement is awaiting court approval. Wilderness advocacy organizations have intervened in the case, and court documents suggest they will object to the settlement agreement. "We have on numerous occasions reviewed similar settlement agreements where the parties' roles were reversed," noted Paul Turcke, the Boise, Idaho lawyer representing the recreation plaintiffs. "We look forward to responding to any objections the intervenors may seek to raise," added Turcke.

The case is entitled Idaho State Snowmobile Ass'n v. U.S. Forest Service, Case No. CV-12-447-BLW. A copy of the complete settlement agreement may be viewed at http://archive.sharetrails.org/uploads/ISSA_v_USFS_Case_CV-12-447-BLW

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The ISSA is an Idaho nonprofit corporation providing a unified voice for the Idaho snowmobile community, seeking reasonable snowmobile access to public and private lands in Idaho, and educating public and private interests on snowmobile use, safety and access. www.idahosnow.org

The BlueRibbon Coalition (BRC) is a national non-profit organization that champions responsible recreation and encourages a strong conservation ethic and individual stewardship, while providing leadership in efforts to keep outdoor recreation alive and well -- all sports; all trails. With members in all 50 states, BRC is focused on building enthusiast involvement with organizational efforts through membership, outreach, education and collaboration among recreationists.
1-800-BLUERIB - www.BlueRibbonCoalition.Org

May 31, 2016 3:24 PM
Some of the many historic OHV routes in the Pine Nut Mountains

BOISE, ID (May 31, 2016) -- Sharetrails.org/BlueRibbon Coalition (BRC), a national trail-based recreation group, today slammed recent decisions that would severely restrict off-highway vehicle (OHV) events and trail improvements in many areas in eastern California and Nevada.  The changes, in the name of sage grouse management, were demanded by a handful of preservationist special interest groups.

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November 23, 2015 3:16 PM
Associated Image

MISSOULA, MT (November 23, 2015) --Various organizations, led by the Ten Lakes Snowmobile Club, have filed a lawsuit challenging U.S. Forest Service planning efforts on the Kootenai and Idaho Panhandle National Forests.  The complaint, filed on November 12, 2015, in federal court for the U.S.

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November 23, 2015 10:38 AM

POCATELLO, ID (November 23, 2015) – Early last week, the BlueRibbon Coalition/Sharetrails.org joined with other recreation groups in a letter sent to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in support of a balanced approach to managing public lands as part of the Moab Master Leasing Plan.

The letter addressed to BLM serves as formal comments from OHV stakeholders.  It also represents an effort between motorized and non-motorized recreation groups working together for the protection of outdoor recreation resources on public lands.

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