6/30/02 ASA Activity Update
Legal Issues
We the American Sand Association (ASA) and a consortium of Off-Road organizations, which include the San Diego Off-Road Association (SDORC), Off Road Business Association (ORBA), California Off Road Vehicle Association (CORVA), AMA District 37 have recently filed in Federal Court an action to remove the current closures from the Imperial Sand Dune Recreational Area (ISDRA).

At this point, we jump ahead to some of your questions. Some might wonder why the ASA group would file such a suit when the soon to be final plan might very well remove the closure. Why would or should we spend this kind of money now?

Because of the recent negative ruling from the Interior Board of Land Appeals (IBLA), we fell back to our original plan and presented our complaint to a Federal Court for review and hopefully a Summary Judgment. We never felt that we would get fair treatment with the IBLA and we were right.

The decision to sue in Federal Court at this time becomes dynamic in a number of ways. This now becomes a contest of moves and counter moves. Once these tactics play out one by one and we are given approval by our attorneys to update what we did and why, you'll know ASAP. We can say that it is anticipated that the CBD will very likely file for an injunction to stop the final plan depending on what that plan looks like.

These are the merits under which we are suing :

"The BLM failed to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act ("NEPA") and the Federal Land Policy Act ("FLPMA") prior to closing significant portions of the ISDRA. Specifically, the plaintiffs allege that the BLM violated NEPA when it closed approx. 49,300 acres of the ISDRA to OHV activities without first: (1) evaluating the environmental consequences of those closures and (2) not allowing public review and comment with respect to the proposed closures and their potential environmental impacts. In short, the BLM's closure of the ISDRA to OHV use constitutes a major federal action requiring NEPA review."

"The Environmental Assessment ("EA") fails to properly analyze, disclose, and mitigate the closure's significant adverse effects on public recreation and public safety. Worse, although the EA asserts that the closure is necessary to protect certain biological resources, neither the EA nor its supporting materials provide evidence that biological resources are substantially threatened by recreational activities in the ISDRA."

"For BLM's violations of NEPA, FLPMA and the Administrative Procedure Act ("APA"), the plaintiffs seek an order from the Court compelling BLM to lift or otherwise rescind the dune closures until they are: (1) subjected to full and proper NEPA review; (2) processed as amendments to the existing CDCA Plan and the RAMP, which would entail full public notice and participation prior to approval; and (3) processed as proposed changes to existing OHV routes, which would require consultation with affected OHV users prior to approval and implementation. Such relief is necessary to redress BLM's illegal action, to protect the human environment, and to safeguard the integrity of the public disclosure and participation policies articulated in NEPA, FLPMA and the APA."

As meetings ensue and Court dates are met with respect to this suit, we will update our progress.