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#29: EcoLogic formed in response to lawsuits

| Dave Hubbard

EcoLogic has represented OHV interests, including those of the ASA, in virtually every lawsuit involving OHV recreation in California.  Here is more of the story.

CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY (CBD):

EcoLogic was formed in 2003 in response to a barrage of lawsuits brought by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) that sought to shut down OHV use throughout federal lands in the California Desert.  One of the first areas targeted by CBD was the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area, which is administered by BLM.  In a blink of an eye, and without hearing from OHV users, CBD had convinced a federal court to close tens of thousands of acres of ISDRA in order to preserve the Peirson's milkvetch (PMV), a federally-listed plant species.

It became clear that the various OHV groups needed to band together and fight back.  Otherwise, the desert closures would continue unabated until OHV use on federal land was completely outlawed. These same OHV organizations realized three other things: (1) they needed to create a permanent legal arm that could jump on any lawsuit filed by OHV opponents and aggressively defend OHV interests, (2) any defense of OHV use must be backed by state-of-the art scientific research, especially on biology questions, and (3) a single legal entity that took a progressive approach to OHV recreation would have to carry the baton.

With these considerations in mind, Roy Denner, along with representatives of ASA, CORVA, San Diego Off-Road Coalition, AMA District 37, and the Off-Road Business Association (ORBA), created EcoLogic as the legal team for the various OHV organizations involved.

ISDRA, CDCA and MOJAVE:

Since it was established, EcoLogic has represented OHV interests, including those of the ASA, in virtually every lawsuit involving OHV recreation in California.  For example, EcoLogic was instrumental in reducing the amount of critical habitat for PMV is the ISDRA from a proposed 80,000 acres to approximately 12,000 acres.  EcoLogic also joined BLM in successfully defending the ISDRA Recreation Area Management Plan (RAMP) -- a fight that went all the way to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.  In addition, EcoLogic has been heavily involved in the litigation and settlement agreements that have preserved OHV use in other parts of the California Desert Conservation Area, including the Northern and Eastern Colorado Desert, the Western Colorado Desert, and the Western and Eastern Mojave Desert.

OCEANO:

Currently, EcoLogic is engaged in litigation against the California Coastal Commission over the Commission's long-standing effort to eliminate OHV use at the Oceano Dunes State Vehicle Recreation Area (ODSVRA), located near Pismo Beach, California. This lawsuit will effectively determine whether OHV use at Oceano Dunes -- which has been part of the social fabric of the local area since 1915 -- will continue or be erased forever.

THE FUTURE:

Looking to the future, EcoLogic will continue to fight against all efforts to shut down OHV recreation in the western United States.  While such recreation must be managed responsibly and conducted with a high-level of environmental stewardship, it must be protected as a key use within public lands.  It is one of the few forms of recreation that brings families together in a healthy outdoor setting and builds bonds among groups of people who otherwise would never meet or become friends.  At a time when kids are increasingly kept indoors, OHV recreation entices them to go outside and experience the natural world. For this reason, it must be preserved, in the same way that swimming, skiing and bike riding must be preserved.

That is EcoLogic's mission.

Dave Hubbard of EcoLogic gives a presentation on the current status at Oceano SVRA during the January 8, 2022 California Four Wheel Drive Association's North District meeting.