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Salmon-Challis National Forest Travel Management Plan

Case Overview

The Salmon-Challis National Forest (SCNF) is located in east-central Idaho and covers some 4.3 million acres. It includes within its boundaries the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Area, the largest wilderness area in the continental United States, as well as the Wild & Scenic Salmon River and the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. Even outside these protected areas, over a million acres of the Forest is wild, undeveloped, and roadless. Consequently, the SCNF is home to miles of pristine salmon streams and abundant and diverse wildlife. It is a unique and irreplaceable refuge for many species and for people who seek the untrammeled solitude of wild places.

Salmon-Challis National Forest. (FWS)

But it is not safe from the onslaught of modern, high-powered off-road vehicles (ORVs). In 2009, the SCNF adopted a "Travel Management Plan" that designated trails and routes that would be open to ORV and other motorized use. Notwithstanding detailed comments from many individuals and hundreds of photographs documenting the damage ORVs have caused on the Forest, the Forest Service designated thousands of miles of routes open to ORV use, including many miles of routes across inventoried roadless areas and recommended wilderness areas. These designations will allow continued destruction of fragile meadows, pollution of streams with sediment, and disruption of wildlife and non-mechanized recreational use of the Forest.

In January of 2010, on behalf of The Wilderness Society and the Idaho Conservation League, Earthjustice sought court review of the SCNF Travel Management Plan for violations of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Forest Service travel management regulations, and executive orders that have been in place for decades which require the Forest Service to affirmatively close trails to ORV use in order to avoid natural resource damage. Our goal is to secure a quieter and more balanced travel plan for the future of the many wild places on the SCNF.

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