MINNEAPOLIS (CN) – Environmentalists say a new travel plan for the Superior National Forest threaten wildlife, clean water and non-motorized recreation in the forest, and in the neighboring Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. And the plan will permanently establish road that were never intended to be permanent, The Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy claims in Federal Court.
The U.S. Forest Service’s ruling that its plan will have “no significant impact” will allow 142 miles of user-created, unauthorized or temporary roads to be converted into permanent off-highway-vehicle routes. And it will publish a map of these routes for the first time, making the decision difficult to reverse, the groups say.
Although the plan would close 154 miles of roads, it sets no timeline for the decommissioning, say the groups, which include the Sierra Club and Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness.
The environmentalists say the newly codified routes would “skirt the line” of the wilderness area, which was established in 1926, and threaten it with noise pollution, erosion and invasive species.
The transport plan also fails to provide for viability of wildlife, including the threatened Canada lynx and gray wolf, which is a threatened species in Minnesota, the groups say.
They claim the Forest Service violated environmental law by using inadequate data and analysis, and failing to examine a range of alternatives.
The environmentalists are represented by Stephen Snyder.