Friends of the Bitterroot

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Bitteroot Mountains
Bitterroot Mountains
Bitteroot Mountains
Bitterroot Mountains

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Help write Forest Travel Mgmt. Plan

Friends and fellow quiet forest users,

The Forest Service solicited public comments on the proposed new Travel Management Plan and set up meetings to hear comments. After the mayhem at The Darby meeting the open meetings were canceled and the comment deadline was extended to February 29th. Numerous motorized users have become very vocal in demanding more machine access to trails. Even though we quiet users make up around 90% of all trail users in the area the Forest Service seems to be eager to placate the noisy bunch. Now is our chance to speak out quietly for quiet use, harmony and respect for our forests and the wildlife we love so much.

Thanks for all you do to help in this effort to preserve traditional forest use and the values we cherish.


Please Comment before February 29th. on the Bitterroot Travel Plan Proposal. You can find official maps and more information at Use the comment form below if you like.

The best comments are personal and relate our experiences or observations while in the Bitterroot National Forest. Below are topics and supporting facts that you may find useful.

• User conflict. As a quiet user, where has your experience been disturbed by motorized vehicles, or evidence thereof?

• Longtime forest users are being driven away - hikers, horseback riders/packers, families backpackers, hunters, fishermen and birders, wildlife photographers and cross country skiers. These groups constitute 90% of all NF users.

• Noise is very disruptive to most back country and cross country skiers and snowshoers. The impact is very far ranging and drives non motorized forest users away. Machine users destroy solitude, one of the forests main attractions and the reason why many of us use the trails.

• Ecological damage. Have you noticed an ORV trail with repeated stream crossings? Trash consistently thrown into a creek section? Excessive noise near a bird nesting area? A meadow or wetland where there are tracks going through it? Have you seen ORVs scaring wildlife?

• Noise and disturbance from off-road vehicles can result in a range of impacts for a number of species including altered movement patterns, avoidance and disrupted nesting activities.

• By compacting the soil and concentrating the surface flow of water, off-road vehicles increase erosion. ORVs should not be allowed on highly erosive soils.

• ORVs crush vegetation and root systems, killing seedlings and change the composition of the forest.

• ORVs are cited as the key source of the spread of invasive and noxious plants in the western United States, affecting an estimated 4,600 acres of public land daily.

• Elk move twice as far from ATV disturbance than pedestrians. One study found that elk moved when ATVs pass within 2,000 yards but tolerate hikers within 500 feet. It also found that elk walked away from hikers but ran from ATVs.

• Safety issues. Is there a blind curve or a narrow section near a drop-off on a road? Are there fast-moving ORVs startling horses on a particular road or trail?

• Motorized use on Forest Service foot and stock trails can place stock users at high risk.

• Illegal use. Are ORVs extending a trail past a “closed” sign? Are dirt bikes using a hiking-only trail? Will the FS have a hard time enforcing restrictions on a particular road or area? Why?

• Many foot and stock trails have 24” tread width and steep sections. Motorized use on them widen these trails and create eroding ruts and gullies that impact watersheds, water quality, streams and fisheries.

• Observations about the agency’s proposed action. According to your experience, are there some specific roads or trails that should be closed or rerouted? Why?

• Ask that ALL Roadless and Wilderness Study Areas be protected, especially trails #39 and #313 in the Sapphire WSA.

• In the Stony Mountain Roadless Area ask that the agency designate the Easthouse National Recreation Trail (#313) and the Palisade National Recreation Trail (#44 and #86) as non-motorized.

• Ask that the agency not designate any routes that cannot be adequately maintained, monitored and enforced.