Sled Groups Sue To Stop Federal Plan

June 5, 2009

A pending federal regulation could restrict or prevent snowmobile access to 39,000 acres in the West.
Snowmobile groups in Wyoming and Washington filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The federal government aims to designate 39,000 square miles in six states as critical habitat for the threatened Canada lynx, according to the Associated Press.

Snowmobile groups are concerned that the designation could curtail snowmobiling on the Continental Divide Trail, which goes through northwestern Wyoming, said Matt Mead, a spokesman for the Washington association. The trail is a premier destination that draws snowmobilers from around the country, he said.

Shawn Sartorius, the lead lynx biologist for the wildlife service in Helena, Montana, said his agency hasn’t identified snowmobiling as a problem in lynx habitat and didn’t expect the trail’s maintenance or new trails to pose trouble for the lynx population.

The new designation is a considerable increase from the original designation of fewer than 1,850 square miles in three states. Several environmental groups, however, have said the increase wasn’t enough and filed notice in March, contending that the designation covered too little of Montana and did not include parts of Washington and Colorado.

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