Friday, December 6, 2013

Tribune: Environmental Groups Sue Feds, Allege 'Lax' Protection of Elk in Clearwater National Forest

Posted By on Fri, Dec 6, 2013 at 11:18 AM

Three environmental groups—Friends of the Clearwater, Alliance for the Wild Rockies and the Sierra Club—are challenging the U.S. government for what they say is a lax plan which would allow too many motorized vehicles to roll through the Clearwater National Forest—which serves as prime habitat for elk.

"They're allowing motorized uses in places we think, in their forest plan, they promised to the public they would protect," Gary Macfarlane of Friends of the Clearwater tells this morning's Lewiston Tribune. "These are places that are important for wildlife and in some instances very high-quality watersheds for fish habitat."

The Clearwater National Forest's newly-crafted travel plan, designates roads and trails throughout the forest as being open for motorized use. In total, about 200 miles of trails and 1 million acres of forest were closed to snowmobiles and ATVS. But according to the lawsuit filed by the three environmental groups, the agency "should have closed another 30 trails and a portion of one road."

The environmental groups allege that the travel plan violates the forest's 1987 management plan by allowing motorized use in areas the agency had pledged to protect as prime habitat for elk.

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