AP NEWS

Lawsuit seeks to halt central Idaho hiking-biking trail

May 7, 2019

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A planned trail connecting the popular central Idaho tourist destinations of Redfish Lake and Stanley is being challenged in federal court by the owners of Sawtooth Mountain Ranch.

The lawsuit contends the plan for the 4.4-mile trail for pedestrians, cyclists, horseback riders and snowmobilers has “numerous flaws and illegalities,” including failing to do a study on the environmental impacts of the trail.

The legal action filed April 9 says the trail would cut across about a mile and a half of Sawtooth Mountain Ranch and asks the court to set aside a 2017 Forest Service decision approving the trail.

Officials say Sawtooth National Forest has a conservation easement deed dating to 2005 that allows a trail 30 feet (9 meters) wide to cross the private property.

David Boren and Lynn Arnone filed the lawsuit last month seeking to stop the plan.

Boren is the founder and a board member of Clearwater Analytics, a financial management company headquartered in Boise. The Idaho Secretary of State’s office lists him as the registered agent of Sawtooth Mountain Ranch.

Boren didn’t immediately return a call from The Associated Press on Tuesday.

The U.S. Department of Justice, which defends federal agencies in lawsuits, didn’t immediately respond to an inquiry from the AP.

The Forest Service has wanted to build the trail to serve thousands of tourists drawn to the rugged and scenic area that offers many outdoor recreation activities.

“This long-envisioned trail will provide a new and safe front-country recreation opportunity in the spectacular Sawtooth Valley,” the agency said in 2018 while announcing plans for the trail.