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Court Invalidates Eldorado Vehicle Management Plan

SACRAMENTO, CA (February 18, 2005) -- In an order dated February 15, 2005, Senior U.S. District Judge Lawrence K. Karlton agreed with both vehicle access advocates and opponents that the U.S. Forest Service has not been properly managing off-highway vehicle ("OHV") use on the Eldorado National Forest. The order came in a case originally brought by anti-access organizations, and later joined by vehicle access advocates such as the California Enduro Riders Association, the California Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs, the California Off-Road Vehicle Association, and the BlueRibbon Coalition. Judge Karlton's order found that the Forest Service failed to fully comply with the National Environmental Policy Act when it issued its 1990 travel management plan, and further found legal violations associated with the 1999 Rock Creek Trail Plan.

"We are still attempting to fully digest the Court's ruling, but it would appear the decision provides opportunity for celebration and concern for all involved," stated Paul Turcke, the lead attorney representing the OHV advocates in the case. "No party has ever been satisfied with either the 1990 or the 1999 plan, and we are glad to see the Court appears willing to take the Forest Service to task for its sins of omission," opined Don Amador, Western Representative for the BlueRibbon Coalition. "We are not sure where we all go from here, but we remain committed to working with the Forest Service, the Plaintiffs, and interested members of the public in forging a new plan that will preserve the environment while allowing reasonable human access to the Forest," concluded Don Klusman, Natural Resource Consultant for the California Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs.

The decision does not establish a remedy for the Forest's legal violations, but requires the parties to submit further information and sets a hearing regarding possible remedies for April 11, 2005. While the decision did find legal violations underlying the 1990 and 1999 plans, the Court also rejected many of the arguments offered by both the vehicle access opponents and advocates. The case is entitled Center for Sierra Nevada Conservation v. Berry, Case No. CV-03-325.

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