Federal Court Ruling Protects Wild Lands in Bitterroot National Forest


Travel Plan protects some of the wildest landscapes in the continental United States


Josh Purtle, Earthjustice, (406) 586-9699 

Zack Porter, Montana Wilderness Association, (406) 823-0695

Larry Campbell, Friends of the Bitterroot, (406) 821-3110

Marla Fox, WildEarth Guardians, (651) 434-7737

Hilary Eisen, Winter Wildlands Alliance, (208) 629-1986 

Kit Fischer, Hellgate Hunters and Anglers (406) 541-6731

Dan Harper, Missoula Back Country Horsemen, (406) 544-7296 

Kathy Hundley, Selway-Pintler Wilderness Back Country Horsemen, (406) 363-8230                  

U.S. District Court Judge Dana Christensen on June 29, 2018 upheld the U.S. Forest Service’s 2016 Bitterroot National Forest Travel Plan against a legal challenge brought by motorized and mechanized users.

The Travel Plan protects some of the wildest landscapes in the continental United States, located in the Bitterroot National Forest, from a rising tide of motorized and mechanized backcountry use. Snowmobile, off-road vehicle, and mountain bike groups filed a legal challenge in December 2016, asking the court to open the protected areas to motor vehicles and mountain bikes, but a broad coalition of Montanans represented by Earthjustice intervened in the lawsuit last year to defend the Travel Plan. On June 29, the court ruled for the intervenors, and ordered that the Travel Plan’s protections remain in place.

“The wilderness-quality lands the Travel Plan protects are important to people from all walks of life in the Bitterroot valley, including hunters, fishermen, horsepackers, hikers, and skiers,” said Earthjustice attorney Josh Purtle. “The court’s decision ensures that these special places will continue to support elk and other wildlife and provide Montanans with outstanding opportunities for solitude and quiet recreation for years to come.”

Read the decision.

Bitterroot Mountains
Bitterroot Valley Near Florence, MT. (U.S. Forest Service )

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