Judge orders officials to look at bicycle use in Bitterroot
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A judge has ordered Bitterroot National Forest officials to allow the public to comment on whether the Blue Joint and Sapphire Wilderness Study Areas should be opened to bicycle use.
U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen also rejected snowmobilers’ effort to open those protected areas for their use.
Christensen’s order on Friday largely upheld the U.S. Forest Service’s plan to preserve the two southwest Montana wilderness study areas’ primitive conditions.
Attorney Paul Turcke tells the Missoulian the result is good for one of the plaintiffs that sued the Forest Service, Bitterroot Backcountry Cyclists. At least a half-dozen other groups also sued for increased access.
Several conservation groups and wilderness advocates defended the Forest Service’s travel plan for the Bitterroot. Earthjustice attorney Josh Purtle says the plaintiffs “threw the kitchen sink” into the challenge, but it didn’t work.
Information from: Missoulian, http://www.missoulian.com