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Forest intends to prepare an over-snow travel plan

by The Western News
| April 30, 2024 7:00 AM

The Kootenai National Forest is taking steps to prepare a comprehensive Over-snow Motorized Use Travel Plan to manage motorized over-snow use across 2.2 million acres of National Forest lands, including the Ten Lakes Wilderness Study Area. 

According to regulations, the agency is required to designate trails and areas open to motorized over-snow vehicle use and the Forest Service will be preparing an environmental impact statement (EIS) to analyze potential impacts of the proposal. 

An amendment to the Kootenai National Forest 2015 Land Management Plan may be considered to modify the boundaries of management area 5a (Backcountry-Non-motorized Year-round). 

The USDA Forest Service proposes to designate about 1.3 million acres and approximately 380 miles of trails of the Kootenai National Forest as open to motorized over-snow vehicle use. 

The approach aims to enhance recreational opportunities while protecting the environment and improving the overall management of the area. The Over-Snow Vehicle Use Map would clearly identify areas, trails, vehicles classes and permitted seasons of allowed motorized over-snow use and would be available for all forest users.  

The proposal will not designate areas or trails for non-motorized winter uses.

Additional project information, including the Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare an environmental impact statement are available for review online at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/kootenai/?project=64358.

Public scoping of this project occurred in April 2015 and July through September 2023. 

However, additional opportunities for public comment will be provided when the Draft EIS is available early in 2025, with a 45-day public comment period immediately following publication of this project’s Notice of Availability of Draft Environmental Impact Statement in the Federal Register. 

The final environmental impact statement is expected by summer of 2025.

Any decision about this project may be subject to 36 CFR 218 or 36 CFR 219 pre-decisional review. Unless received anonymously, public comments received during the scoping period from July 13, 2023 through September 29, 2023 may establish eligibility for participation in pre-decisional administrative review.

For additional information, contact the Kootenai National Forest at 406-293-6211 or by email at SM.FS.knfcontactus@usda.gov.