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Forest Service settles lawsuit, agrees to ban dirt bikes

By: R. SCOTT RAPPOLD
November 21, 2012
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The U.S. Forest Service has agreed to ban dirt bikes on a popular trail network along Bear Creek in response to a lawsuit by environmental group the Center for Biological Diversity.

Recent research has found Bear Creek, just west of Colorado Springs, is home to the last genetically pure species of endangered greenback cutthroat trout.

Federal attorneys agreed to a settlement with the group Wednesday. The settlement gives the Forest Service 10 days to ban the vehicles on all trails in the drainage, except for Trail No. 667, also known as the Buckhorn Trail, between High Drive and a saddle above the Bear Creek drainage.

“We’re so glad the Forest Service agreed to do the right thing and protect the only place in the world where greenback cutthroat trout still live in the wild,” said Tim Ream, attorney for the environmental group. “This endangered fish has been hanging on by a thread for decades. The last thing it needs is motorcycles tearing through its only home and filling the creek with sediment.”

The Center for Biological Diversity claims dirt bikes cause erosion that damages the habitat for the fish. The settlement requires the Forest Service to conduct environmental review under the Endangered Species Act before reopening the trails to vehicles.

A Forest Service spokesperson was unavailable for comment today.

Check back later for reaction from dirt bike riders, who have long maintained the trails there.

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