Judge: Snowmobile Route Near BWCA Won’t Violate Federal Law

A federal judge has ruled that a proposed snowmobile route bordering the Boundary Waters Canoe Area will not violate the Wilderness Act.

Friday’s ruling by U.S. District Judge John Tunheim comes after a nine-year battle between snowmobile enthusiasts and environmental groups who claimed the route would disrupt the quiet of the BWCA.

The Star Tribune reports Tunheim acknowledged his ruling was a “close one,” but said the increased sound from snowmobiles would not be significant enough to constitute a violation of the Wilderness Act.

The route to be built by the U.S. Forest Service would connect McFarland Lake to the popular ice-fishing attraction of South Fowl Lake.

Tunheim said the noise would be no louder than a “moderate rainfall” and would affect only a small portion of the wilderness.     

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