Court Nixes Lawsuit Opposed to ATVs in MN Forest

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Common sense prevailed in Minnesota this week when a court decision rejected the Sierra Club’s challenge to the 2004 Revised Superior National Forest Plan.

The lawsuit included challenges to the analysis of potential impacts to the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Area, as well as the accuracy of the road and trail inventory used by the Forest Service. The decision, penned by U.S. District Judge Patrick J. Schiltz, ruled in favor of the Forest Service and concluded that the agency had not acted arbitrarily or capriciously in adopting the broad prescriptions of the Revised Forest Plan.

The All Terrain Vehicle Association of Minnesota (ATVAM), along with the BlueRibbon Coalition (BRC), both recreation advocacy groups, intervened in the case on the side of the Forest Service.

The Superior Forest released a formal Travel Management Plan in December 2008, which designates areas, roads and trails for vehicle travel. Under agency regulations, that decision is subject to administrative appeal by those participating in the decision making process, including the Sierra Club, ATVAM, BRC and many others.

“We are certainly pleased by this outcome,” said Phill Morud of ATVAM. “Recreation is an increasingly dominant use of our National Forests and we feel this suit was an effort to delay and divert agency energy from active recreation management.”

“Thousands of visitors have a stake in effective management of the Superior, and with the dismissal of this suit hopefully we can all focus our attention on management of specific roads, trails, and areas of the Forest,” said Brian Hawthorne, BRC Public Lands Policy Director.

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