Motorizing Montana's trails

  The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the U.S. Forest Service give motorized trail projects the go-ahead without scrutiny, according to The Montana State Trails Program: Motorizing Montana's National Forest Trails, a 13-page report by the Predator Project in Bozeman. Widening trails significantly damages habitat, but agencies dismiss it as "repair and maintenance," says writer David Havlick. Wide trails also deter hikers, bicyclists and horseback riders - the majority of trail users. But since trail work is exempt from environmental review, the public cannot appeal it, and state gas taxes and general federal funds for recreation trails encourage the state to motorize trails. "Not many people seem to realize the magnitude of pressure that the motorized recreation industry is steadily applying to many Western public lands," says Havlick. The report is $3 from Predator Project, P.O. Box 6733, Bozeman, MT 59771 (406/587-3389) or e-mail predproj@avicom.net.