E-Bike Lawsuit Dismissed in Tahoe National Forest

lake tahoe
Photo: Courtesy of aaronj9/Shutterstock

A lawsuit that claimed the Tahoe National Forest wrongfully permitted class 1 e-MTBs on 136 miles of non-motorized trail has been dismissed. Paperwork filed in California District Court on March 31, shows that the case between the U.S. Forest Service and a group of equestrians and trail groups has been settled.

According to court documents, the Tahoe National Forest removed wording from its website that was added last July that extended access on trails classified as non-motorized to pedal-assist e-bikes, and replaced it with language saying that e-bike use is not currently allowed on National Forest land that is closed to motorized use.

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According to the agreement, the Tahoe National Forest further clarified the rules on its website, saying: “E-bike use on National Forest System (NFS) roads and trails is governed by existing Forest Service regulations, directives, and policies, as reflected on the website for the Pacific Southwest Region of the Forest Service, available at https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/r5/recreation/?cid=fseprd557285. E-bike use is currently not allowed on NFS roads and trails unless they are designated for motor vehicle use. E-bike use in the Tahoe National Forest is currently allowed only on NFS roads, on NFS trails, and in areas on NFS lands that are designated for motor vehicle use, as reflected on a motor vehicle use map. The Forest Service strives to provide a broad range of recreational experiences on NFS roads and trails, including hiking and horseback riding, mountain biking, and motor vehicle use. The Forest Service is considering options that would expand e-bike access, including options for allowing e-bike use on NFS roads and trails where that use is not currently allowed. The Forest Service will continue to update the public on these efforts and any associated opportunities for public involvement.”

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The plaintiffs, including the Back Country Horsemen of America, the Backcountry Horsemen of California, Gold Country Trails Council, The Wilderness Society and The Forest Issues Group, sued the Forest Service last October, saying that the Forest Service didn’t go through the proper public process, including a comment period and environmental review before deciding to open non-motorized trails to e-MTB use, a violation of its own travel management regulations.

The case didn’t last long, and in fact, the Forest Service never formally entered a response to the complaint, instead asking for two extensions, while the two sides worked to settle the issue.

This article originally appeared on Bikemag.com and was republished with permission.

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