(CN) – Environmentalists’ challenge of a U.S. Forest Service decision to allow off-road vehicles on 1,196 miles of roads and trails in Idaho’s Sawtooth National Forest will be reconsidered by a full 9th Circuit panel.
The Wilderness Society and Prairie Falcon Audubon argued that the Forest Service violated a slew of federal laws, illegally excluded the public from the decision-making process, and “failed to address the extensive legacy of environmental damage” caused by off-road vehicles.
A federal judge dismissed the challenge, but the 9th Circuit reversed, ruling that the Forest Service’s environmental assessment was not reliable, because it was based on a nonexistent management indicator species.
The agency also failed to take a “hard look” at the project, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act, the panel ruled. The panel ordered the Forest Service to revise its plan.
The 9th Circuit agreed to rehear the case en banc, or before a full panel of judges.