MISSOULA, MT (May 10)-- The Treasure State Alliance led a coalition of recreational access groups in seeking to join a lawsuit challenging mechanized vehicle access to the Gallatin National Forest. In particular, the lawsuit focuses on whether the Forest's December, 2007 Travel Management Plan allows too much, or too little, motorized and mechanized access to the Hyalite-Porcupine-Buffalo Horn Wilderness Study Area along the Gallatin Crest north of Bozeman.
The Recreational Groups filed a motion to intervene in the case on May 9, 2007 in U.S. District Court for the District of Montana (Case No. CV-07-39-M-DWM). The groups joining in the motion include the Montana Trail Vehicle Riders Association, Montana Snowmobile Association, United Four Wheel Drive Associations and the BlueRibbon Coalition. In addition to seeking to intervene and defend against the anti-access claims of the Montana Wilderness Association and Greater Yellowstone Coalition, the Recreational Groups seek leave to bring a cross-claim against the Forest Service, asserting that the new Travel Plan illegally restricts motorized and mechanized access relating back to use of the area in 1977, when the Montana Wilderness Study Act was passed. The Recreational Groups are represented by Paul Turcke of Boise, Idaho and Rob Cameron of Gough Shanahan Johnson & Waterman in Helena.
"In recent years, large areas of public lands in Montana have been placed off limits to motorized and mountain bike use. We believe it essential to have a formal role in this litigation to represent four-wheelers, snowmobilers, ATV riders and mountain bikers that the anti-access plaintiffs wish to exclude from the WSA," said Craig Osterman, TSA's Executive Director.
The latest case is assigned to Chief District Judge Donald Molloy, who has heard several other lawsuits involving WSA issues, most notably including a 1996 suit brought by the Montana Wilderness Association, which was eventually heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2004 the high court agreed with jurisdictional arguments presented by the Forest Service and Recreational Groups and sent the case back to Montana, where it was settled earlier this year. In addition to the current case, a challenge to the Gallatin Travel Plan has been filed by the Bozeman-based Citizens for Balanced Use, which is currently pending in the Billings Division of the U.S. District of Montana.
Treasure State Alliance is Montana's Umbrella Multiple Use Organization that brings the users groups together to foster relationships with public agencies and officials. It promotes the responsible recreation and reasonable access to all users of our Public Lands.