Helena group enters legal fray over forest travel plan

PHIL DRAKE

A U.S. Magistrate has approved a motion by a Helena-based group to intervene in a lawsuit filed against the U.S. Forest Service challenging a 2016 travel plan regulating motorized route closures along the Continental Divide.

The Capital Trail Vehicle Association and Citizens for Balanced Use filed a lawsuit in February, calling some of the route closures illegal. The U.S. Forest Service, the Helena National Forest and Lewis and Clark National Forest Supervisor Emily Platt were among the defendants.

Helena Hunters and Anglers Association has now intervened and joins the defendants, U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen L. DeSoto ruled May 31, noting the plaintiffs did not object.

“We want to be in the fight and argue our position,” said Matt Bishop, attorney with the Western Environmental Law Center who is representing Helena Hunters and Anglers.

He said the group wants to ensure the Forest Service aggressively defends the divide travel plan, which they thought was good overall.

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“And if there are settlement discussions, we want a seat at the table,” Bishop said.

The Capital Trail Vehicle Association and Citizens for Balanced Use lawsuit filed Feb. 25 in U.S. District Court seeks

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