Thursday, August 19, 2010

New Green Subpart A Lawsuit Shows Lust for Closures

The Recreation HQ was not surprised today when it opened its email to find that CBD, The Wilderness Society, and other green groups filed a “Subpart A” based lawsuit against the Stanislaus National Forest’s recent ROD for TMR.
PHOTO: The General on Field Tour with Recreation Outdoor Coalition

The General along with many pro-access Forest Service employees have known that the original 2002 “Farrington Triangle” and the subsequent 2005 TMR were developed by closure advocates within the agency and lobbyists on K Street to effect landscape level closures or to set up the agency to be targets of anti-access groups and their lawsuits.

Most of us knew the Forest Service would never be able to develop lawsuit-proof TMR plans that could withstand the much anticipated and never ending parade of nuisance lawsuits filed by green groups to force the agency to close tens of thousands of miles of roads, trails, and areas to motorized use.

What is new about this lawsuit is that it largely bases its flawed legal merit on the “minimum road network,” fiscal restraints, and forest-wide travel analysis found in Subpart A.

It is The General’s belief that no amount of planning that treats the OHV community in a fair manner will satisfy the anti-motorized community’s lust for landscape level closures.

All this suit does is substantiate HQ’s working thesis that today’s TMR is being used to close the Forest to public use. In the rare case where a Forest tries to strike a balance, the enviros have shown they will club that unit into submission until they get the desired amount of trails and roads closed to motorized access.

This suit should give pause to the agency as it prepares to launch Subpart A planning in Region 5. The question for the agency is, “Do we have enough resources to craft fair-mined plans that can withstand green lawsuits or should we continue to bow at the alter of the environmental movement to avoid those suits?” I can guarantee you the agency does not have the resources to fight lawsuits on every Forest. Hence, it is my fear the agency will continue to offer the public plans that close historic roads and trails on an unprecedented scale to motorized use.

It may be a good agency strategy to recognize they don’t have the resources at this time to fight these battles. Rather they should simply stick with the current Subpart B plans and allow various Forests to complete the much promised subsequent “trail plans” that were promised to the OHV community in many a ROD’s narrative.

What is for certain is if the agency continues with Subpart A planning, they WILL be sued by anti-access groups if said plans don’t close thousands of miles of roads and trails.

Folks we are in what I call the “OHV Dark Ages” where common sense management and fairness are being replaced by dark lawsuits designed to make riders an endangered species. We should be asking our elected officials to help with NEPA and EAJA reform to counter this onslaught. Some of them already are!

Do we give up? NO! We continue to fight back and stay the course. These times call for a strong heart and will. The HQ thanks you for your efforts and support.


  1. Big Rick,

    These posts double as a land use quiz...:)
    ROD is Record of Decision and TMR is Travel Mang. Rule.

    Thanks for the comments.