After more than five years in development, officials at the Flathead National Forest have approved a winter motorized recreation plan.
The decision implements travel maps and seasonal regulations for snowmobiling largely according to a 2001 settlement agreement reached between the forest, the Montana Snowmobile Association and the Montana Wilderness Association.
The new policy largely adheres to the agreement in terms of snowmobiling areas, while also defining extended spring seasons in four particular areas. Some riding areas will be open through the end of May under the new agreement.
The approved policy, like the settlement, allows for continued snowmobiling on about 787,000 acres, or about 91 percent of the terrain that has historically been used by snowmobilers.