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  Comments (0) Total Friday Apr. 18, 2014
 
New Blacktail Mountain Trails Project Moving Forward
Group opposed to adding motorized, non-motorized trails drops appeal
Development of new motorized and non-motorized trails on Blacktail Mountain is moving forward after a formal appeal was dropped, the U.S. Forest Service announced Friday.

The Swan Lake Ranger District will continue with the Island Unit Trail System Additions Project, which will add more than 30 miles of new motorized paths and 11.5 miles of non-motorized paths. The Forest Service agreed to drop a portion of the lowest elevation motorized trail and connector trail on Kerr Mountain. This segment is near private land and residences and concerns were raised during a recent negotiation with the appellants.

“While by no means a perfect solution, the agreement does reduce the miles of new motorized trail behind people’s homes, and sets up a phased-in approach, which gives the Forest Service a chance to demonstrate success before opening the Kerr Mountain trails,” lead appellant Adam Rissien with Wildlands CPR said in a statement.

The project will now proceed to implementation of the two new motorized loop trail systems. One is located in the Truman Creek Drainage that extends the existing Blacktail Wild Bill OHV Trail. The other is located on Kerr Mountain, which is also part of the existing Blacktail Nordic Trail System. Two new non-motorized trails totaling 11.5 miles are also authorized, the Foy’s to Blacktail Trail and a trail from Lakeside to Blacktail. In combination with the existing trail system and designated roads to link it all together, there will be a total of 61 miles of trails on the Island Unit.

Swan Lake District Ranger Rich Kehr said this is a great way to move forward.

“Resolution of this appeal allows implementation of the majority of the Island Unit Trails decision and provides for collaborative development with those who are interested in the project,” Kehr said in a statement. “This decision provides for valuable non-motorized and motorized recreation opportunities in the Blacktail area.”

In negotiations, the Forest Service agreed that law enforcement will be part of the agency’s patrol plan strategy, and efforts will be made to increase capabilities in the project area. Other efforts will be made to explore options to decrease dust on portions of Blacktail-Radar Road.

“We are pleased with the resolution and we look forward to the collaborative efforts of multiple parties which will allow us to review the project, determine what issues exist, and potential resolution for these issues,” sppellant Leslie Gray said. “Frankly, we would have preferred to see the entire Kerr Mountain portion of the Island trails project scrapped, but I do think this is a very positive step forward for all concerned. Time will tell.”

RELATED: Residents Formally Oppose Proposed Trails on Blacktail Mountain
 
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