No public lands advocacy effort can affect access on the ground without a continual and effective presence in the court. Citizens who use and enjoy motorized vehicles are aggressively targeted by numerous and heavily-funded anti-access special interests. Access-friendly decisions must be defended and improper decisions must be challenged.
- Historically, pro-access interests have faced several challenges in the legal arena:
- Without a presence in the courts, closing areas to motorized recreationists becomes the “path of least resistance” for land managers
- There are few attorneys that are experienced in the specialized blend of administrative law unique to recreational access
- In the past, motorized recreationists have used financial resources inefficiently and without coordination, resulting in a patchwork “defense” easily pierced by opponents creating bad precedent against which all suffer
For these reasons and more, BRC established and is committed to furthering the BlueRibbon Legal Program. For over a decade the BlueRibbon Legal Program has offered solutions to the above challenges, cultivating a relationship with Moore Smith Buxton & Turcke of Boise, Idaho, to develop counsel with cutting-edge knowledge of unique “access law” while controlling costs…
Since successful legal challenge often begins with early and substantive participation in the planning process, our legal team works very closely with our public lands staff to assist BRC members in formal comments on their local administrative planning process. In addition and where appropriate, the Program includes a retainer component, allowing members to obtain an initial review of their case without charge, along with the capability to quickly enter administrative appeals and litigation for below-market hourly fees that are borne by participants in the applicable matter. The BlueRibbon Legal Program has stood the test of time in merging quality and value unparalleled in the access advocacy arena.
Our most visible focus is countering the endless stream of litigation by the anti-access crowd and, when opportunities develop, going on offense with our own actions. Since 1996, the BlueRibbon legal team has taken the lead in dozens of lawsuits throughout the country defending reasonable recreational access. BlueRibbon’s lawyers have appeared in more than a dozen federal district courts, four circuit courts of appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court. A few examples are listed below:
- Decade’s long involvement in Wilderness Study Area suits defending threats and restoring riding opportunities
- Convinced 9th Circuit to reverse 20 year old rule that prevented nonfederal interests from responding to enviro lawsuits
- Stopped road ripping and diverted closure energies to productive stakeholder solutions in Six Rivers Forest (CA)
- Filed suit in response to “manage through total closure” agency mentality at Tellico (NC)
- Lead litigant in “Roadless” area cases since 1999, including Idaho case that temporarily enjoined Clinton Roadless Rule
- Long standing presence in varied roles fighting for Eldorado Forest (CA) access, including attorney fee recovery
- Key role alongside partners in defending Yellowstone snowmobile access starting in 1997
- Filed lawsuit leading to the re-opening of Lake Powell to personal watercraft (UT & AZ)
- Evolving defense of Clear Creek (CA) riding against ESA and asbestos motivated closures
- Blocked anti-access settlement during key political transition from Clinton to Bush administrations (IL)
- First (and continuing) intervenor in critical litigation defending and re-establishing riding at Glamis (CA)
- Successfully appealed a “total closure” option of the Angelina National Forest in Texas and thwarted an identical effort on the Holly Springs National Forest in Mississippi
- Continual presence in Forest Service travel planning and appeals, recently including Black Hills (SD), Coconino (AZ), and Clearwater (ID) Forests
These results come at costs to be envied by any business, organization, or individual forced to navigate the minefield of litigation. Each year, the Program provides thousands of hours of attorney time–advancing recreation access throughout the administrative agencies and in federal court lawsuits throughout the country.
FEBRUARY 22, 2019
BI STATE GROUSE LAWSUIT – we have completed service of the summons and complaint on the Federal Defendants. This starts the clock running on the 60 day deadline for an answer, which will be due in early April.
UTAH – we have been offering analysis of the omnibus public lands package passed by the U.S. Senate, which has particular effects in Utah, including new Wilderness and other designations affecting public lands access. We are also evaluating and preparing for BLM travel plans which will soon be underway. Particular thanks to Ride with Respect and Clif Koontz for assisting in these efforts.
NEVADA – we submitted comments on February 14 to the Fallon Range Training Complex Modernization DEIS, in conjunction with various partners including the Pine Nut Mountains Trail Ass’n, Nevada and California Four Wheel Drive Ass’ns, and Sierra Trail Dogs and Dust Devils Motorcycle Clubs.
CALIFORNIA – BRC Legal Counsel participated telephonically and Board Member John Stewart personally attended the Inyo Revised Forest Plan objection resolution meetings, which were held in Bishop, CA on February 19-21. We are also reviewing the Draft Record of Decision for the Tahoe Forest OSV designation project, which was released on February 8. This triggers a 45-day objection period, which will end on March 25.
IDAHO – we are reviewing and will comment upon the Plan Initiation Package and wilderness review materials for the Salmon Challis Revised Forest Plan. Comments are due on February 28.
OREGON – we continue to monitor and act in the Blue Mountains Revised Forest Plans objection resolution process, which according to recent correspondence may soon resume following post-furlough agency engagement.