For Immediate Release, April 10, 2008
Contact: Mollie Matteson, (802) 434-2388, or (802) 318-1487 (cell)
Forest Service Retracts Plan for New Snowmobile Route
RICHMOND, Vt.— In response to protest from the Center for Biological Diversity, Conservation Law Foundation, and Vermont Sierra Club, the United States Forest Service has scrapped a plan to build a new snowmobile route in the Green Mountain National Forest.
The groups, along with numerous local residents, opposed the proposal to build a new, three-mile-long snowmobile corridor through an undisturbed and unmotorized portion of forest.
Mollie Matteson, conservation advocate with the Center, said: “The Forest Service has allowed the snowmobile network to expand willy nilly for decades, to the point where there are more miles of snowmobile route on the Forest than all other kinds of trails combined. It is time to prioritize other values on our rare and precious public lands, like protecting wildlife habitat and natural quiet.”
The conservation organizations were concerned that the proposed snowmobile route — part of a project called Natural Turnpike — would further fragment forest habitat in an area where the density of roads and other motorized routes is already high. Forest fragmentation due to roads, logging, development and other intrusions is a leading threat to many species, including forest-dwelling songbirds, bears, bats, and salamanders.
The groups recommended that the Forest Service move the snowmobile route adjacent to and parallel with the road, rather than opening up an entirely new area of the forest to motorized travel. This is the plan the agency has now adopted.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 40,000 members dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.