Here is the opening brief for Rico West Dolores Roads and Trails (Travel Management) Project Final Record of Decision lawsuit, please enjoy and wish us well as we proceed.
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLORADO
Civil Action Nos.:
TRAILS PRESERVATION ALLIANCE,
SAN JUAN TRAIL RIDERS, PUBLIC
ACCESS PRESERVATION ASSOCIATION,
Petitioners and Intervenor-Respondents,
U.S. FOREST SERVICE;
SAN JUAN NATIONAL FOREST;
KARA CHADWICK, Forest Supervisor;
DEREK PADILLA, Dolores District Ranger;
SAN JUAN CITIZENS ALLIANCE;
DUNTON HOT SPRINGS, INC.;
SHEEP MOUNTAIN ALLIANCE,
Intervenor-Respondents and Petitioners.
OPENING BRIEF ON THE MERITS BY PETITIONERS
TRAILS PRESERVATION ALLIANCE, SAN JUAN TRAIL RIDERS
and PUBLIC ACCESS PRESERVATION ASSOCIATION
These consolidated matters address U.S. Forest Service planning and management of recreational access. The final agency action under review is the Rico West Dolores Roads and Trails (Travel Management) Project Final Record of Decision, Environmental Impact Statement and associated actions issued by the Dolores Ranger District, San Juan National Forest on July 30, 2018 (collectively, the “Decision”). Petitioners in the lead case (No. 18-cv-02354) Trails Preservation Alliance, San Juan Trail Riders, and Public Access Preservation Association (collectively “Trail Riders”) are nonprofit organizations consisting primarily of members who enjoy and advocate for motorcycle trail access. Petitioners in the companion case (No. 18-cv- 02903) are nonprofit preservation organizations and a privately owned ecotourism resort.
The Rico West Dolores roads and trails have received motorized vehicle travel for decades. The location and nature of that motorized access have become regularly and increasingly scrutinized. Through this scrutiny, improved equipment and better management practices, motorcycle travel on designated trails has long been environmentally sustainable and recognized as one of a spectrum of appropriate multiple uses of the area. The Forest Service previously restricted motorized access in 2009, and that effort and the validity of ongoing motorized travel was challenged and upheld in this Court, and eventually the Tenth Circuit, in Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, Colorado Chapter v. U.S. Forest Service, Case No. 11-cv- 3139-MSK (D. Colo.), 612 Fed. Appx. 934 (10th Cir. 2015).
Following its successful defense of the foregoing litigation, the Forest Service undertook further planning culminating in the Decision. The Decision imposed significant new restrictions on motorized travel. The Decision eliminated motorcycle trail access to the Town of Rico. The Decision reduced available motorcycle trail mileage by over 30 percent, reduced the season of use, eliminated key routes, and disrupted long-established loops and trail connectivity. These substantial but ill-chosen reductions unnecessarily eliminate access, will threaten adverse environmental impacts, create crowding and increase public safety risks by redirecting and concentrating motorized travel. Unfortunately, these actions ignore logic, disserve sound policy and violate the law.
The Trail Riders faced little option but to challenge the Decision’s restrictions through this action. The Court should declare unlawful and vacate the Decision, and remand this matter to the Forest Service for further analysis.
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