For Immediate Release
Cyndi Tuell, (520) 444-6603
Center for Biological Diversity Statement on Forest Service Withdrawal of Off-road Vehicle Decision in Oregon
PORTLAND, Ore. - Facing political pressure from Oregon’s congressional delegation, off-road vehicle users and a misinformation campaign, the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest Supervisor Monica Schwalbach this week retracted a “travel-management plan” that provided much-needed limits on off-road vehicle use to protect wildlife habitat and watersheds.
The travel plan was approved in March after 13 public meetings, more than 4,000 public comments and a detailed six-year environmental review.
Cyndi Tuell of the Center for Biological Diversity issued the following statement in response to the withdrawal:
“By withdrawing this decision, the Forest Service has subverted the law, silenced the public, ignored its own environmental review and wasted countless tax dollars. The Forest Service has shown that it will sooner protect special interests rather than the public’s national forest lands, turning the travel-planning process into travel pandering.
“Local organizations, recreation interests and residents supported this decision; those left in opposition would still have had the opportunity to administratively appeal the decision on its merits. Instead, the forest supervisor chose to abandon procedure, cave to political pressure and effectively discard years of work and waste taxpayer dollars.
“The Forest Service’s decision to retract this travel-management plan delays protections for wildlife, watersheds and quiet recreation that the plan promised. It’s disheartening that Forest Service officials won’t stand on the side of science, fair public process and the laws that protect our national forests.
“The Center calls upon the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest to immediately issue a ban on cross-country motorized travel until the travel-management planning process is finished.”
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.