BOISE, ID (April 2, 2013)–Snowmobile advocates today responded to a recent decision in United States District Court for the District of Idaho, which directs the U.S. Forest Service to promulgate new motorized travel management regulations. The decision was released on March 29, 2013, and declared unlawful the agency’s 2005 Travel Management Rule for violating “plain language” in a forty-year old Executive Order and allowing it to be “discretionary” whether the Forest Service designates “areas of use or non-use” by snowmobiles. The 2005 Rule was years and millions of dollars in the making.
While it is typical to conduct further proceedings to determine a proper remedy in an environmental case like this, the court’s decision simply announces a new rule must be issued within 180 days. The parties to the case, including snowmobile advocates Idaho State Snowmobile Association, American Council of Snowmobile Associations, and BlueRibbon Coalition, are still interpreting the court’s ruling. “This is either a tectonic shift or much ado about nothing,” stated Sandra Mitchell. “Forest Service rules and maps have for decades regulated not only areas of ‘use and non-use’ but details to the gnat’s eyelash regarding winter use of specific roads and trails for motorized and non-motorized users. If it does anything, this decision will create unnecessary controversy and further sap the planning budget of an agency already fearful of being raided in the name of fiscal reform,” added Sandra.
The decision is subject to appeal for sixty days. A copy of the decision may be viewed at http://www.sharetrails.org/uploads/63-Memorandum_Decision_and_Order_03.29.13.pdf