A Win for OHV!!
In what many are calling a huge victory for the OHV Community, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today that the Imperial Sand Dunes RAMP, which in 2014 reopened thousands of acres of dunes to OHV recreation, can remain in place as-is.
In a unanimous opinion, the three-judge federal court panel rejected plaintiffs' claims that BLM's decision to open additional land to OHV use violated the Endangered Species Act, Clean Air Act, the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act. The panel held that impacts to the federally-threatened Peirson’s milkvetch did not require an “incidental take” statement from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In addition, the panel held that BLM did not act arbitrarily or capriciously when determined that reopening the previously-closed dune areas would not cause an increase in air quality impacts, such as dust.
Unless Anti-access groups want to expend an exorbitant amount of resources on a full 9th Circuit Court hearing and/or appeal to the Supreme Court, the validity of the ISDRA RAMP is confirmed.
The Anti-access group’s only viable option now is to have one or more species in the dunes declared threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. So we must continue our vigilance in protecting our right to motorized recreation at the Imperial Sand Dunes.
For those of you who wish to purchase a weekly permit, please visit the following website for a map of locations near you: http://isdpermits.net. Weekly Permits will also remain the same price as last year. $35.00 if purchased in advance or $50 if purchased at the dunes.
HOW IMPORTANT IS OFF-ROADING TO YOU?
If Glamis and Johnson Valley, and Dumont and Ocotillo Wells (pick your favorite OHV spot) closed would you care? Does the amount of money you have invested in OHV toys, trailers and RV’s really mean anything to you? Would you just…give it all away? You certainly couldn’t sell it. With no riding areas, the stuff would be worthless.
Don’t think it will happen? Guess again. Remember Rice Dunes? How about Kelso Dunes? How about Stoddard Valley? White Water? Ring any bells?
If you’re not scared, you should be. What do you know about Microbembex elegans and Stictiella villegasi (they are bees)? And how about Prasinalia imperialis and Agrilus harenus? (They are beetles.) How about the Flat Tailed Horned Lizard? The bugs were just (4) of (16) insects that the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) would like to see listed as Endangered at Glamis, and using that, to close Imperial Sand Dunes down completely. The Lizard is part of that crowd. The CBD is working hard to get those and other species listed to be used to close riding areas. Those are just the tip of the iceberg.
Quote from the CBD website:
“Off-road vehicles have become a leading threat to the ecological integrity of many of our country’s most biologically rich public lands. The Center is working diligently to protect these valuable areas.”
Just how diligently is the CBD working? They have a staff of over 100. Their legal staff has 32 members. Twenty seven of them are attorneys. They have net assets of over 13 MILLION dollars. Yes. Count that again 13 MILLION!
The Imperial Sand Dune Recreations Area (ISDRA) is a victim of abuse of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) where 49,300 acres were temporarily closed as part of a March 2000 lawsuit settlement pending a Recreation Area Management Plan (RAMP). The plan and its components were challenged several times by the anti-access groups and it took approximately 14 years for the new plan to be implemented.
In 2014 the new plan re-opened the 49,300 acres. However, the Bureau of Land Management(BLM) wanted a plan that would withstand further legal challenges and so closed approximately 9,000 acres of land deemed critical habitat (CH) that were open before the initial lawsuit. This closure included the Patton Valley Travel Corridor (PVTC): a section of dunes that heretofore had never been closed.
In addition to the ongoing lawsuit seeking to end open riding at Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area (OWSVRA), the Center for Biological Diversity filed a petition on June 9th seeking the Flat Tailed Horned Lizard be listed as an endangered species. They claim that habitat loss, off-road vehicles and global warming are pushing the species towards extinction.
The petition specifically lists areas such as OWSVRA, Superstition Mountain Open Area, Plaster City Open Area and the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area (ISDRA) as habitat areas that have had cumulative impacts due to off-road vehicle use. Furthermore, illegal ORV (Off Road Vehicle) use has been closely monitored. The petition contains several pictures of illegal route proliferation and requests ORV use be prohibited within some or all of the Management Areas. Some of the pictures that were included in the petition have been included below.