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Access Groups Claim Legal Victory on Eldorado Forest Lawsuit

SACRAMENTO, CA (May 9) - A national trail-based recreation group and state off-highway vehicle organizations claim huge access victory in today's legal ruling. Over 2,000 miles of recreational roads and trails will remain open on the Eldorado National Forest. The anti-access advocates had asked the court to close the entire National Forest to motorized users.

Senior U.S. District Judge Lawrence K. Karlton issued a tentative ruling today that directs Forest Service attorneys to prepare an order authorizing vehicular travel on approximately 2,245 miles of recreational system roads and trails. The judge had issued an earlier ruling that found the 1990 Travel Management Plan and 1999 Rock Creek Trail Plan to be out of compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act.

Groups praising the ruling today include the California Enduro Riders Association, the California Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs, District 36 of the American Motorcyclist Association, the California Off-Road Vehicle Association, and the BlueRibbon Coalition.

According to Paul Turcke, lead counsel for the recreation groups, "I think Judge Karlton looked at all the issues and decided to try and find some middle ground. This ruling also directs the agency to further analyze travel management on a forest-wide basis and orders them to follow their 1999 Rock Creek Trail Plan."

Don Amador, western representative for the BlueRibbon Coalition, states, "I think this is a huge victory for those of us who champion responsible use of our forest lands. The anti-access groups had wanted to close the entire forest to the public but they were wrong. I think the judge looked at the various partnerships that exist between the agency and user groups and that had a positive affect."

The case is entitled Center for Sierra Nevada Conservation v. Berry, Case No. CV-03-325.

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