CBD Listing is Little More Than a Shrill Attack on OHV Enthusiasts

SAN DIEGO (Sep. 12, 2003) Ė With a recent U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service announcement that the threatened Peirsonís milk-vetch plant may be removed from Endangered Species Act (ESA) protection at the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) is now focusing its attention on a 10-year-old, flawed study to list the Andrews Dune Scarab Beetle.

According to Roy Denner, president of the San Diego-based Off-Road Business Association, the CBD Scarab Beetle listing is "little more than a shrill attack on off-highway vehicle users and has little to do with the actual population dynamics of the species in question."

In a U.S. Dept. of Interior (DOI) letter dated Jan. 13, 1992 to Fred Andrews, author of the Andrews Dune Scarab Beetle study, DOI contracting officer Anne Ferrie said, "the report does not indicate an attempt to evaluate the effects of OHVís on the beetle quantitatively."

Denner said that the CBD petition, using the Andrews study, fails to include basic information regarding the number of beetles residing in the dunes and does not discuss population trends at all.

"In short, the petition does not indicate how many beetles exist or whether their numbers are growing or declining," said Denner. "Further, the petition provides no evidence that off-highway vehicles affect population trends one way or the other."

In a follow-up letter to Andrews dated Feb. 24, 1992, Ferrie said, "your original technical proposal did not address the contract requirement for evaluation of the effects of OHV use on the beetle population in each of the four multiple use classes and you were given an opportunity to correct this deficiency. It is not certain how the impact of ORV (off road vehicles) can be estimated in the short period of this study."

"The American Sand Associationís (ASA) legal and biological teams are currently reviewing the CBDís petition," said Grant George, ASA president. "We have found this petition is based on the same flawed science as the Peirsonís milk-vetch petition and we are prepared to also take this one to court, if necessary. The Centerís efforts are just another attempt at forcing the permanent closure of 49,000 acres of the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area, one of the most popular sand riding areas in the nation."

George said that his organization feels strongly that the CBD knows that they will lose the Peirsonís milk-vetch issue because its peer-reviewed studies prove the plant is flourishing in the open areas, proving there is no need for the closed areas.

"Since 1974, special interest groups, including the CBD, have been slowly closing millions of acres of California, Arizona and New Mexico public lands to motorized access using this tactic," said Denner. "Itís time to make them stop and use valid science, not ancient or nonexistent data and quit wasting taxpayersí money for frivolous lawsuits."

Denner said that out of the approximately 25 million acres of public land in the California Desert Conservation Area, only about two million acres are open for motorized recreation, according to the Bureau of Land Managementís (BLM) Environmental Impact Statement for the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area.