The Nez Perce and Clearwater National Forests are undergoing supplemental travel management. The travel management planning is a result of a court decision from 2022. Friends of the Clearwater sued over the decision to allow motorized use on certain trails, specifically the Fish Lake Trail. The plan also analyzes in more detail elk habitat. Creating Elk Habitat could restrict motorized use further. Comments will be accepted through October 2, 2023.
This plan has a long history of litigation over restricting use within the forests. For nearly 15 years this planning has been scrutinized. The Idaho State Snowmobile Association (ISSA) along with BlueRibbon also challenged the 2011 travel management decision. The ISSA/BRC lawsuit resulted in a settlement agreement that required the Forest Service to analyze again the decision regarding travel management in four Recommended Wilderness Area (RWAs). BRC and ISSA challenged the decision of the RWA’s and the removal of motorized use within areas that have historically been open motorized users. It was deemed in court that motorized use in these areas would be prohibited however, the Fish Lake Trail could allow motorized use. The Fish Lake Trail has a long history of motorized use. The Friends of the Clearwater sued that the Fish Lake Trail should also be closed to motorized users.
1987 Forest Plan is when the RWA’s were first recommended. They have never been congressionally designated. Fish Lake Trail is the only motorized route to access Fish Lake. This trail needs to stay open to motorized use. While the planning process is ongoing, the route is currently prohibited to motorized. Let the USFS know by sending in a comment that these RWAs and Fish Lake Trail should not restrict uses that have been happening long before the Forest Service was created.