California – Eldorado National Forest

Updates

Overview

OHV Recreation Weathers Never Ending Storm in Eldorado

eldorado-nf-owl-08-gate-closed_1229x922In 1988, a group calling itself FAWN brought what then seemed an epic challenge to motorized recreation on California’s Eldorado National Forest. More than two decades later, preservationist special interests remain fixated on using the courts to close whatever the agency leaves open. The BlueRibbon Legal Team, with partners like the California Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs, California Enduro Riders Association and AMA District 36, has been there through every brutal fight. And we are still riding.

The latest effort focuses on the 2008 Travel Plan. That Plan was certainly less than perfect from an OHV recreation perspective, but we were willing to to accept it and work in a forward-looking relationship with the Forest Service and other engaged interests. The other side wasn’t. Led by the Center for Sierra Nevada Conservation and Center for Biological Diversity, they filed suit outlining a familiar litany of claims, including variants of the age-old National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and National Forest Management Act (NFMA) arguments, as well as a new claim arguing the Forest failed to properly create a “minimum road system.”

OHV interests, represented by the BlueRibbon Legal Team, successfully moved to intervene in the case. The case was briefed in 2010 and argued in April 2011. The Court issued a decision in May 2011 which rejected the bulk of Plaintiffs’ claims. However, the Court ruled in Plaintiffs’ favor on two small technical issues, which now appear to affect the possible future of 42 route segments. The parties sought leave of the Court to negotiate a possible remedy, but those efforts were ultimately unsuccessful, and they were headed back to Court to determine the future of those 42 routes and further planning on the Eldorado.

The Court announced in a hearing on February 13, 2012 that it was inclined to close the 42 routes beyond that point at which they bisected a meadow.  The Forest Service proposed an order consistent with this approach, to which the OHV interests strongly objected.  The primary basis for their objection is that this approach essentially provides plaintiffs with injunctive relief yet does not reflect application of the detailed test for injunctive relief outlined by the Supreme Court.  In late July, 2012 the Court adopted the Forest Service’s proposed order.  Though the OHV Groups believe an appeal could be justified, they have elected to forego appeal based on representations that the Forest is committed to completing a new decision.  In other words, there will likely be a new decision and another round of appeals/litigation may unfold more quickly than an appeal could be heard.

Please monitor this case and help us defend trail-based recreation on the Eldorado. California often portends the recreation future in other parts of the National Forest System. Whether you ride in California or not, we need to join together in defending this latest threat to the Eldorado. And be ready when the anti-access forces come back again to challenge the next plan.

Don Amador
Western Representative
BlueRibbon Coalition
(925) 625-6287

Pleadings

 

Lawsuits threaten IMMEDIATE CLOSURE of OHV trails!
Please help us defend trails against aggressive environmentalist attack.