Monday, March 25, 2013

LEGAL UPDATE - Minimization Does Not Mean Closure

Example of "Alpine-type" Single Track
The Recreation HQ believes two recent federal court decisions support the Forest Service’s authority to designate high-quality alpine-type motorized routes and single track trails despite legal and political objections by anti-access groups.
In early March 2013, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the agency’s right to reopen the South Canyon Road (Jarbidge Road) to motorized use.  HQ believes the court recognized the unit’s efforts to “minimize” environmental impacts of the road in their planning documents.
Link to Jarbidge Decision in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
According to the article, the Ninth Circuit 3 judge panel further found that the plan the agency chose for the road, "incorporated several mitigating modifications." These included "minimizing the number of river crossings by heavy equipment during construction;" "clearly marking low-water crossings and posting them with 5 MPH speed limits;" and designing the new road not for passenger cars but four-wheel drive vehicles.
Last Friday, a federal court sided with pro-access groups regarding the designation of premium single-track trails found in in the Rico West Dolores area of the San Juan National Forest in Colorado.
BRC News Release on Rico West Court Decision
HQ believes these court decisions reinforce the concept that minimization DOES NOT mean elimination. Instead, reasonable efforts to manage or “minimize” environmental or user conflicts in federal planning efforts can often be adopted to keep high quality alpine routes open for OHV use.

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