Missoula Judge Rules That Snowmobiles Can Be Excluded From Wilderness Areas
Early this week, Missoula Judge Dana Christensen ruled that the U.S. Forest Service has the authority to exclude snowmobiles from areas recommended for wilderness. Paul Turke is the attorney for the snowmobile groups that filed the lawsuit and he lists the next steps.
“Obviously this decision is relatively new so we haven’t made any decisions about whether to appeal,” said Turke. “I am sure the other side hasn’t decided whether they might appeal as well. I will note that we did prevail on certain claims in the case and our motion was granted in part.”
According to Turke, there is already another lawsuit that might impact this issue.
“We have a similar, but distinct case on the Bitterroot National Forest that challenges travel plan, which is different that the forest plans that was an issue on the Kootenia,” Turke said. “The Bitterroot record is unique and I think will be more persuasive in advancing some of our claims.”
Turke says his clients appreciate wilderness values and they want them to remain in good condition, but they feel there should be other ways to address these issues rather than closure.