SEATTLE (AP) - Three conservation groups have settled a lawsuit they filed to stop the U.S. Forest Service from opening 350 miles of forest roads to motorized vehicles in central Washington.
Under the settlement, the Forest Service agreed not to authorize public use to all-terrain vehicles without first completing an assessment of environmental effects. The agency also agreed to re-survey routes and remove any remaining signs authorizing ATV use.
Last June, the Forest Service opened six new roads in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest to ATVs. The Alpine Lakes Protection Society, Kittitas Audubon Society and Sierra Club sued days later, alleging the agency violated federal laws.
In September, the Forest Service withdrew its decision and removed signs. But the groups believe people may mistakenly believe ATV is still authorized.
The federal agency denied the groups’ allegations but agreed to pay their attorney’s fees as part of the settlement.
The settlement was filed in federal court in Seattle March 8.
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