BlueRibbon Coalition BRC: Another Milestone In Eldorado Travel Management

Discussion in 'Land Use News' started by BlueRibbon Coalition, May 31, 2011.

  1. BlueRibbon Coalition

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    Paul Turcke, Esq.
    - Phone: (208) 331-1800
    - Fax: (208) 331-1200
    - Email: pat@msbtlaw.com

    Date: 05/31/2011

    SACRAMENTO, CA (May 31)--A national trail-based recreation group and state off-highway vehicle organizations are applauding a recent legal ruling involving the Eldorado National Forest. The ruling comes in the latest of preservationist lawsuits spanning several decades.

    Senior U.S. District Judge Lawrence K. Karlton issued his ruling on May 26, 2011, that largely upholds the Eldorado travel management decision, but finds the Forest Service violated the Endangered Species Act and certain Forest Plan standards in authorizing access through a handful of meadows and failing to more thoroughly consider ephemeral streams. Each of these issues focused on alleged impacts to California red-legged frog habitat. The frog-related claims involve a handful of routes within the roughly 1,200-mile road/trail network approved by the agency.

    The Court upheld the Forest Service and rejected plaintiffs on numerous other issues, including the range of alternatives, level of site-specific analysis, and the wide-ranging claim that identification of a Subpart A "minimum road system" must precede designation of specific roads, trails and areas under Subpart B.

    The decision does not provide a remedy, but requests proposals within 14 days of the order outlining a process to determine remedy. The Court noted that plaintiffs' "requested remedy would set aside years of decision-making by the Forest Service, and an administrative record spanning thousands of pages, because the Forest Service failed to properly consider these 10 miles of roads" and asked the parties to discuss the proper remedy "based upon such an apparently insignificant impact."

    Paul Turcke, lead counsel for the recreation groups, observed, "This is another epic decision from Judge Karlton that is lengthy, insightful, and occasionally entertaining. We are disappointed that plaintiffs prevailed at all, but they appear to have ignited their entire battlefield arsenal and caused only minor damage to an unmanned drone. We look forward to participating in ongoing proceedings and effective management of recreation on the Eldorado," Turcke concluded.

    Groups that were defendant intervenors in this case include the California Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs, California Enduro Riders Association, District 36 of the American Motorcyclist Association and the BlueRibbon Coalition.

    The case is entitled Center for Sierra Nevada Conservation v. U.S. Forest Service, Case No. CV-09-2523. A copy of the decision may be viewed at: http://www.sharetrails.org/uploads/Eldorado_lawsuit_decision_may_2011.pdf

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    The BlueRibbon Coalition is a national recreation group that champions responsible recreation, and encourages individual environmental stewardship. With members in all 50 states, BRC is focused on building enthusiast involvement with organizational efforts through membership, outreach, education, and collaboration among recreationists. 1-800-BlueRib - www.sharetrails.org

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