The Associated Press

KETCHUM, Idaho (AP) -- A federal judge has ordered the U.S. Forest Service to develop a revised environmental impact statement concerning motorized vehicles on hundreds of miles of trails in the backcountry of the Salmon-Challis National Forest.

The Idaho Mountain Express reports (http://bit.ly/vTdSUe) that U.S. Magistrate Ronald E. Bush last week ruled that the federal agency failed to show it had fully considered the use of ATVs and other off-highway vehicles on routes of less than a half mile in recommended wilderness and roadless areas.

Bush said that failure by the Forest Service in creating its 2009 travel plan for the Salmon-Challis National Forest violated federal law by not taking into account the National Environmental Policy Act.

Bush gave the Forest Service until Aug. 31 to develop the new environmental impact statement.

The decision follows a lawsuit by the Idaho Conservation League seeking greater restrictions on motorized travel in the forest that covers 4.3 million acres and includes the Frank Church-River of No Return wilderness.

In previous court action, the court put in place an injunction earlier this month that temporarily closed trail access to six trails, totaling almost 15 miles.

In February, Bush ruled that the Forest Service had ignored evidence showing significant damage to trails and the landscape from off-road vehicles when it crafted its 2009 plan.

___

Information from: Idaho Mountain Express, http://www.mtexpress.com

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

Recommended for you