By Rebecca Boone
Boise, Idaho - An organization representing
snowmobile manufacturers is asking a federal judge to let it bring an appeal
over rules governing the use of snowmachines in national forests.
The International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association filed
the motion to intervene in Boise's
U.S. District Court last Thursday in a lawsuit the Idaho-based Winter Wildlands
Alliance brought against the U.S. Forest Service in 2011.
The Winter Wildlands Alliance won the lawsuit earlier this
year when U.S. District Judge Ronald Bush agreed with the group's contention
that the Forest Service was wrongly excluding snowmobiles from a requirement
that forests must create travel management rules for motorized vehicles in
national forests. Now the snowmobile industry group would like to appeal that
finding to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, but first it must get
permission to become a party in the lawsuit.
National forests have been required to craft travel
management plans restricting wheeled cross-country travel to designated routes
since 2005. But snowmobiles were exempted and the Forest Service allowed
individual national forests to decide if snowmobile plans were necessary. The
Winter Wildlands Alliance sued over that exemption in 2011, asking the judge to
force the Forest Service to add snowmobiles and other over-the-snow vehicles,
or OSVs, to the motorized travel plan requirements.
The judge sided with the Winter Wildlands Alliance, finding
the OSV exemption contrary to federal law.
"Unless the judgment is reversed, there is a substantial
risk that a `closed unless opened' regime will take over-i.e. National Forest
areas will be closed to snowmobiling unless affirmatively opened by the Forest
Service," Paul Turcke, an attorney for the snowmobile industry group, wrote in
the motion. "This will result in fewer National Forest areas being open to
snowmobiling, fewer sales and rentals of snowmobiles by businesses in and
around the National Forests, and reduced demand for snowmobiles and snowmobile
parts by those businesses."
That will cause the industry financial harm, the group
The Winter Wildlands Alliance has not yet filed its response
to the motion and its attorney, Lauren Rule with Advocates for the West, could
not be immediately reached for comment. The judge has not yet ruled on the
snowmobile association's request.