BOISE (CN) – The U.S. Forest Service violated environmental laws by allowing motor vehicles on trails along Idaho’s Rapid River, which is home to three threatened species of fish, environmental groups say in Federal Court. The Idaho Conservation League, The Wilderness Society and the Hells Canyon Preservation Society say the Forest Service has no right to allow motorized dirt bikes and ATVs on “wild” scenic rivers.
The groups say the Forest Service is violating the National Forest Management Act and the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. The Rapid River provides habitat to spring and summer Chinook salmon, Snake River Basin steelhead trout and Columbia River bull trout, all of which are listed as threatened.
The Forest Service’s own assessment of the Rapid River remarked on its scenic fisheries and water quality and cultural value. The groups say the Forest Service will irreparably harm the river and its watershed and permanently affect the aesthetic, recreational, scientific, commercial and religious interests of their members and anyone who uses the area for an “opportunity for solitude in a scenically diverse river setting through, for example, fall hunting and early-season hiking and backpacking.”
They want motorized vehicles banned immediately to minimize harassment of wildlife, disruption of habitat and annoyance to recreational.
The groups are represented by Scott Reed of Coeur d’Alene.