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Judge rejects lawsuit over SW Montana forest plan

By Associated Press
Published On: Jul 22 2013 04:04:12 PM MDT
Forest Service
BUTTE, Mont. -

A federal judge has rejected a challenge to a U.S. Forest Service plan to bar motorized and mechanized vehicles in 322,000 acres of new recommended wilderness areas in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest.
    
Twenty-two plaintiffs sued the Forest Service over its 2009 plan to ban the use of snowmobiles, off-road vehicles and mountain bikes in certain parts of the southwestern Montana forest until Congress decides whether they should become permanent wilderness areas.
    
U.S. District Judge Sam Haddon ruled Monday the plaintiffs did not meet the legal threshold to sue over two of their claims.
    
The judge dismissed their three other claims that the Forest Service violated the National Environmental Policy Act. Haddon says the federal agency fulfilled its obligations under NEPA to study the effects of banning motorized uses in those areas.