SPOKANE— The U.S. Forest Service is prohibiting off-road or all-terrain vehicles on 117 road miles across the Colville National Forest.
The agency rescinded its 2020 motor vehicle use maps and reinstated previous motorized vehicle designations that do not allow ATVs on certain roads, according to Conservation Northwest and WildEarth Guardians.
The groups filed a lawsuit challenging the agency’s expansion of motorized use without proper public comment or required consideration for fish, wildlife, and sensitive habitats.
After the Forest Service recission, the suit was dismissed.
“ATVs have a rightful place on the Colville National Forest, but opening new motorized routes requires public vetting and environmental review to avoid impacts to important wildlife habitat, consider other recreation values, and ensure enforcement and accountability for illegal behavior,” said Tiana Luke, Colville forest lead for Conservation Northwest. “None of that was done here.”
Conservation Northwest has long worked with the forest on off-road vehicle use, sustainable forestry and other issues, the group said.
Last year, the forest modified its 2020 motor vehicle use map to expand the amount of traffic through undeveloped land and habitat that supports fish and wildlife. The authorization to allow ATVs and other types of off-road vehicles to drive on 26 road segments came without any meaningful public comment or environmental scrutiny. The lawsuit asked the court to invalidate the Forest Service’s decision.