By (Great Falls) Tribune Staff
U.S. District Judge Sam Haddon has upheld a decision by Lewis and Clark National Forest to ban snowmobiles and restrict all-terrain vehicles in Badger-Two Medicine, a wilderness-like area that conservationists said was being beat up by ATVs.
In a ruling filed last Thursday, Haddon said the U.S. Forest Service's adoption of the Badger-Two Medicine Travel Plan that included the motorized access restrictions was not flawed and dismissed a lawsuit to overturn it by motorized user groups.
The 129,530-acre Badger-Two Medicine area is an island of wild country surrounded by the Bob Marshall Wilderness, Glacier National Park and the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.
On Oct. 1, 2010, a new travel plan limiting motorized access to all but eight miles and banning snowmobiles went into effect. The purpose was to protect the soil and air and wildlife habitat from damage.
Gene Sentz of Choteau, who works for outfitters that use the area, welcomed the decision to keep the area off limits to motor vehicles. He said the level of ATV use "snuck up" on the Forest Service.
"Now it's quiet again and it's back like it was 25 to 30 years ago," he said.