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Unregulated Motorized Vehicle Use in the Gallatin National Forest

Attorneys in Earthjustice's Bozeman office succeeded in a legal challenge to force the Forest Service and Fish and Wildlife Service to protect grizzlies and their habitat from off-road and off-trail motorized travel in the Gallatin National Forest. The Forest Service is currently preparing a new Forest travel plan in response to the lawsuit. Further litigation may be necessary if the agency does not incorporate adequate measures to regulate ORV (dirt bikes, three-wheelers, four-wheelers, and snowmobiles) use in important grizzly bear habitat.

In a previous set of cases, Earthjustice established that road building and associated human access in grizzly bear habitat harms bears and must be restricted under the Endangered Species Act. These cases, which involved the Flathead, Targhee, and Gallatin National Forests, forced the Fish and Wildlife Service to regulate the number of roads and trails in grizzly bear habitat. Prior to the recent challenge, however, the government had turned a blind eye to the ever-increasing problem of motorized vehicles traveling off-road and off-trail in bear habitat. The Gallatin National Forest contains approximately one million acres of occupied grizzly bear habitat.