Forest Service Corrects Course, Allows Review of Off-road Vehicle Plan Threatening Wildlife and Watersheds

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Cyndi Tuell, (520) 444-6603

Forest Service Corrects Course, Allows Review of Off-road Vehicle Plan Threatening Wildlife and Watersheds

TAOS, NM - The Center for Biological Diversity on Thursday scored another
victory for public involvement in public-land management when the
Carson National Forest agreed to allow public reviews of an off-road
vehicle management plan. The Forest had previously denied the public
access to the documents, known as environmental assessments. In July
the Center asked its members to contact the Forest Service and ask for
the chance to review the documents. More than 3,500 emails were sent in
response to the Center’s request. The environmental assessments will be
made available for public review and comment sometime in mid-September.

“We commend the Carson National Forest for deciding
to follow the law,” said Cyndi Tuell, southwest conservation advocate
at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The public has a right to
understand and speak out against the damage that off-road vehicles
cause to our public lands.”

All national forests are required to limit motorized cross-country travel by the travel management planning rule of 2005,
aimed at protecting natural resources after more than 30 years of
unregulated off-road vehicle use. High road densities and off-road
vehicle use in the Carson are damaging wildlife habitat, causing
watershed damage and soil erosion, hurting trout streams, and leaving
few places available for those who seek a quiet place to enjoy nature.
According to Tuell, it’s nearly impossible for people and wildlife to
get more than a mile from a road on the west side of the Carson
National Forest.

“Travel management planning — and
the Carson National Forest’s wildlife and watersheds — will ultimately
benefit from an informed and engaged public,” said Tuell. “This is the
right decision.”

The Center has been closely
tracking off-road vehicle management in national forests throughout New
Mexico and Arizona, working to protect threatened and endangered
species habitat from poor agency decision making during the process
known as “travel management planning.” The Center has pushed for more
public involvement and has repeatedly asked the Carson National Forest
to take a hard look at the destructive impacts of off-road vehicle
recreation.

The Carson National Forest is now
accepting public comments on plans for five ranger districts. The
public must submit comments for the El Rito, Canjilon, Tres Piedras,
and Jicarilla ranger districts by August 15. Public input for the
Questa Ranger District should be submitted by September 5. The
documents currently available to the public contain very little
information on the impacts of the proposed off-road vehicle plan. The
documents to be made available in September will provide the public
with another opportunity to ask the Forest Service to protect some of
the last wild places in the forest.

Information on the plans for all the ranger districts is available on the Forest Service Web site, here.

 

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At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

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