The Idaho Conservation League opposes allowing motorized or mechanized recreation within the Wild Rapid River watershed. The wild character of this remote and pristine place in Central Idaho near Hells Canyon would be marred by motorcycles, and introduce harmful impacts to the area’s water quality, fisheries, big game security, and cultural sites.
Payette National Forest Service officials are determining the future of travel management in this watershed and have proposed creating 2.3 miles of single track for motorized recreation. Although the proposed number of miles isn’t significant, the potential for unmindful riders to chart their own course, go off-trail, and cause damage is high.
Let the U.S. Forest Service know they should permanently prohibit motorized travel in the Congressionally-designated Wild Rapid River watershed. The deadline is April 4, 2021.
A 2010 settlement between ICL, The Wilderness Society, the Hells Canyon Preservation Council, and the Forest Service prohibits motorized and mechanized use in the Wild Rapid River corridor and on adjoining lands within the watershed.
ICL believes that allowing motorized recreation on these trails violates Congress’ intent to protect the entire watershed through the Wild Rapid River designation, as well as the Forest Service’s own assessment of the watershed’s Outstanding Remarkable Values (ORVs).
Water quality, fisheries, traditional cultural use, and cultural resources (archaeological) topped the Forest Service’s ORV list. While recreation was evaluated, the agency did not find it rose to ORV status.
The increased popularity of OHV, ATV, and motorcycle recreation on public lands has resulted in increased erosion and habitat loss while decreasing wildlife security. Further, unauthorized trail creation and “off-roading” in the past decade demonstrate that agencies managing our public lands have fewer resources and diminished capacity to deal with travel restriction enforcement, trail maintenance and repair, and watershed restoration.
ICL believes that allowing motorized recreation in this remote and pristine watershed is a recipe for disaster, with increased user-created trails crisscrossing the landscape, adding sediment to the streams, and diminishing water quality and fisheries habitat.