Crazy Mountain access proponents suffered another defeat on Wednesday after U.S. District Court Judge Susan P. Watters adopted “in full” a February ruling by U.S. Magistrate Judge Timothy J. Cavan.
Friends of the Crazy Mountains, Enhancing Montana's Wildlife & Habitat, the Skyline Sportsmen Association and Montana Backcountry Hunters and Anglers had appealed Cavan’s findings. The groups contended the Custer Gallatin National Forest had not acted appropriately in rerouting a trail on the west side of the mountain range and walked away from trail maintenance on the east side. Landowners also joined in the lawsuit on the Forest Service’s side.
The Crazy Mountains contain a checkerboard of landownership, with private and federal holdings interconnected and sometimes isolated. The access groups had contended the Forest Service erred in its management of four trails by not defending prescriptive access rights on routes that date back to the early 1900s. The agency countered that it had appropriately considered alternatives and pursued the best action for the Forest Service. Landowners disputed that the agency had access rights on the old routes.
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