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BlueRibbon Coalition

North Idaho Off-Road Group Applauds Extension of Public
Comment Period for Clearwater National Forest Travel Plan

(February 4, 2008) - The Panhandle Trail Riders' Association (PANTRA), a North Idaho Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) club, today claimed their collaborative work with other outdoor enthusiasts was a factor in convincing the Forest Service to re-open public comment regarding future restrictions on motorized and mountain bike use proposed by the Clearwater National Forest.

On Monday February 4, the Clearwater National Forest announced a new public comment period on a draft forest-wide Travel Plan that would close many currently popular motorized trails, mountain bike trails and snowmobile areas. The new comment period ends February 29, 2008. PANTRA believes an avalanche of user comments convinced the Forest Service that soliciting additional comment was prudent.

Joe Dowd, PANTRA's Clearwater Task Force Chairman said; "we think the Forest Service was surprised by the volume and passion of user comments asking that recreation friendly options to be considered."

Lori Jordan, PANTRA'S President said; "We hope the additional comment period will help land managers consider other management options. Our group understands and appreciates the need to protect the fragile resources on our National Forests, but management by closure does not serve the public. The agency needs to strike a balance."

The group indicated that OHV and mountain bike riders were concerned about policies developed at the Regional Office in Missoula, Montana that could be interpreted as forcing local District Rangers to eliminate virtually all OHV, mountain bike and snowmobile use on vast areas of the Forest. PANTRA believes the Regional Headquarters is out of step with the recreating public. Given the popularity of trail based recreation, the last thing the agency should be doing is closing existing, legal, classified, trails.

Background information:

About The Panhandle Trail Riders' Association
(PANTRA) is a non-profit, family-oriented, off-road motorcycle club dedicated to promoting the joys and excitement of off-road motorcycle riding in Washington and Idaho. Our goal is to preserve, protect and enhance current and future riding opportunities through user education and involvement with local Land Managers.

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