HELENA — A federal appeals court has decided the U.S. Forest Service failed to thoroughly analyze or publicize the impact of snowmobiles on wildlife in Montana's Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest.
The 9th U.S Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday ruled that the Forest Service skirted multiple environmental and public-disclosure laws in its 2010 forest plan. It reversed a lower judge's decision dismissing a lawsuit against the Forest Service's snowmobile-use plan.
The court sided largely with the three environmentalist groups that brought the complaint — WildEarth Guardians, Friends of the Bitterroot and Montanans for Quiet Recreation.
Circuit Judge Richard Paez writes that although the plan decreased snowmobile access to about 2 million acres, it did not necessarily curb the impacts of the increasingly popular sport.
The Forest Service offered no comment while the U.S. Department of Justice reviews the decision.