The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Karen Schambach (530) 305-0503; Michael Lozeau (510) 749-9102 x. 2#; Bill Jennings (209) 464-5067

Water Pollution Lawsuit Against California State ORV Park

Creek Ruined by Off-Road Abuse in Carnegie Recreation Area

TRACY, Calif.

An association representing government scientists and law
enforcement personnel and another representing sport fishing interests
filed a lawsuit today in Alameda County Superior Court charging the
California Department of Parks and Recreation and its Off-Highway Motor
Vehicle Recreation (OHMVR) Division with violating the state's Water
Code and their own regulations by allowing off-road vehicle activities
to pollute Corral Hollow Creek at Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation

The two groups, Public Employees for Environmental
Responsibility (PEER) and California Sportfishing Protection Alliance
(CSPA), charge the OHMVR Division violates State law by failing to file
required Reports of Waste Discharge for vast amounts of sediment and
heavy metals being discharged into the creek from Carnegie's
heavily-used off-road trails and open areas. They also charge the OHMVR
Division with failing to comply with its own regulations, which require
annual monitoring of soil loss and damage to wildlife habitat.

The Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area (SVRA), near Tracy, is
home to a number of sensitive, endangered and threatened wildlife
species, including the Kit fox, California Red-legged frog, Western
pond turtle, Alameda whipsnake, California tiger salamander, Golden
eagle, Western spadefoot toad and Large flowered fiddlenecks. Corral
Canyon is the only place in the world the fiddleneck occupies.
Carnegie's denuded hillsides, a result of decades of damaging
"hillclimbs" by off-road vehicles, stand in stark contrast to the
lushly vegetated slopes on adjoining private lands. Inside the park,
steep trails are badly eroded and Corral Hollow Creek is used as an
off-road play area.

"State Parks is allowing an obscene degradation, not only of a
public facility, but of waters of the State," observed Karen Schambach,
California Field Director for PEER. "Off-roaders shouldn't be getting a
free pass to pollute, merely because theirs is a recreational use."

Bill Jennings, Executive Director of CSPA said, "DPR is failing its
duty to protect the water quality of Corral Hollow Creek by allowing
its eroded trails to spew sediment into the creek and riders at the
park to use the creek as an off-road play area. DPR's failure is
amplified by its effort to evade the California Regional Water Quality
Control Board's authority to regulate and prevent the park's pollution."

The groups are demanding the State file Reports of Waste Discharge
with the Regional Water Quality Control Board, and obtain the permits
required for discharges into state waters. They are also seeking
temporary closure of Carnegie until the OHMVR Division complies with
the water quality permitting requirement and completes monitoring and
restoration in compliance with its own regulations.

The OHMVR Division is responsible for ensuring responsible
management of off-road use throughout the state, including on thousands
of acres of Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management land that have
received hundreds of millions of dollars over the 38-year old life of
the program. Conservation groups have, for years, charged the program
with putting recreation interests over environmental protection. The
program, the beneficiary of $60 million a year in state fuel tax
revenues, is the only Division of State Parks not facing park closures.

See the lawsuit

Look at fiscal imbalance in state parks favoring ORVs

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) is a national alliance of local state and federal resource professionals. PEER's environmental work is solely directed by the needs of its members. As a consequence, we have the distinct honor of serving resource professionals who daily cast profiles in courage in cubicles across the country.