A pair of groups, the Blue Ribbon Coalition and the Idaho Snowmobile Association, have filed a lawsuit challenging a regional Forest Service office decision banning snowmobiling, motorcycles, mountain bikes and ATVs in what is currently designated as a wilderness study area, according to a story in the Idaho Statesman.
The Clearwater National Forest decision, an area located along the Idaho-Montana border, says a spokesperson for the snowmobile association, is in conflict with the policy of the past 40 years, which has allowed motorized vehicles in a number of wilderness study areas. Wilderness study areas are not designated as wilderness under the 1964 Wilderness Act, thus are open to multi-use activities at the discretion of the local Forest Service managers.
Sandra Mitchell, public lands director for the snowmobile group, says, “Only Congress can designate wilderness. We cannot stand idly by and watch them change the long-established system for managing these treasured lands.”
The Wilderness Society in Boise opposes the lawsuit, saying the suit calls into question the local Forest Service’s right to manage wilderness-type areas.