Magistrate backs groups in trail issue

Associated Press
The Spokesman-Review


LEWISTON, IDAHO-- A federal magistrate has sided largely with environmental groups in a dispute over a trail that descends six miles into Hells Canyon.

Located on the Idaho side of the gorge, the rocky trail leads to historic Kirkwood Ranch on the Snake River.

The Hells Canyon Preservation Council and the Idaho Wilderness Society filed suit in March 2002, asking that the road be closed to motorized traffic. They claim the Forest Service's management of the road threatens native plants in Hells Canyon and promotes the spread of noxious weeds.

They also contend motorized traffic there is inconsistent with the congressional act that created the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area and the Hells Canyon Wild and Scenic River.

Magistrate Dennis James Hubel in Portland was sympathetic to some of the groups' claims, but also agreed with the Forest Service on two important points. Hubel's findings have not concluded the case.

The dispute began in 2000 when a contractor for the Forest Service repaired portions of the road so heavy equipment could reach the ranch to install outdoor toilets. The environmentalists claim the work made the road more accessible to motorized traffic.

Hubel found the work on the road that provides four-wheel-drive vehicle access to the Kirkwood Ranch failed to protect rare native plants and check noxious weeds. He also said the agency failed to consider environmental impacts when portions of the road were fixed in 2000.

The magistrate did not agree with the groups that motorized vehicles should be excluded from the wild portion of the Wild and Scenic River nor that the agency's overall management of recreation there is incompatible with the preservation of rare plants.

Brett Brownscomb of the Preservation Council said the environmental groups will challenge the portions of the magistrate's findings that were not in their favor.


One reader's comment:

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

The "environmentalists" use the term noxious weed for a reason. We can all agree this is something that needs to be addressed. However, extrapolate that thought and look where it is going. If this sets a precedence, then, "they" can sue to have vehicles blocked going into sensitive areas; they can have vehicles blocked going into ANY area; they can have PEOPLE blocked from going into sensitive areas (noxious/invasive species on your shoes).

It is NOT their aim to "protect" the species or critical areas. If a person pulls their eyes away from specific law suits and steps back, they will gain a larger perspective, they will be amazed the picture that appears. One road at a time, one logging sale at a time, one specie at a time and WE will no longer have access to our National Forests.

Think about it. Look up NREPA, the National Rockies Environmental Protection Act, HR488. It is a 25 MILLION acre "take" of our National Forest into Wilderness Areas. It takes the Hells Canyon RECREATIONAL area and turns it into a PERSERVE; highly restricted use by humans.

This Legislation already has 150 congressional co-sponsors. It is brought to us by the Alliance for the Wild Rockies "environmental" group.

Remember, one bite at a time.


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