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Environmentalists Try Again to Close CDCA


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  • Environmentalists Try Again to Close CDCA

    Environmentalists Try Again to Close CDCA

    A new lawsuit was filed on May 28, 2003, in the United States District Court, Northern District of California, San Francisco Division (case #C-03-2509) against the Bureau of Land Management and US Fish & Wildlife Service. Plaintiff's allege that the Biological Opinions of April 3, 2003, and June 17, 2003, are arbitrary, capricious, and inconsistent with the law.

    This lawsuit arises from a lawsuit filed in the Spring of 2000 by the same plaintiffs. CA4WDC and the Blue Ribbon Coalition were granted Intervener status in that case. We were able to negotiate a stipulated consent decree settlement among the parties to that suit which in part specified that the BLM was to consult with the FWS and, in the interim, provided for interim relief limited OHV use in specified areas of the California Desert Conservation Area, including habitat for the desert tortoise and Peirson's milk vetch. As a result of that decree, huge areas of the 25,000,000 acre CDCA were temporarily placed off limits to OHV activity (almost 50,000 acres of Glamis, Surprise Canyon, etc.) pending the issuance of a Biological Opinion by the FWS pertaining to among other things, the effects of OHV activity on these endangered species.

    This last April's Biological Opinion issued by the FWS regarding the BLM's Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area Management Plan concluded that said plan, scheduled to be implemented by August 15, 2003, was not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the desert tortoise or the Peirson's milk vetch. Consequently, almost all of the public lands temporarily closed at Glamis were going to be reopened for use by all of the public.

    The June Biological Opinion considered the recently amended desert tortoise Recovery Plan and concluded that the current CDCA plan will not jeopardize the desert tortoise or adversely modify its critical habitat. While much of the current CDCA plan would have allowed the reopened much of the public lands that had been closed under the original consent decree, some public lands would have been permanently closed to OHV activity so as to protect the desert tortoise.

    CA4WDC and the Blue Ribbon Coalition plan to once again file to get Intervener status in this lawsuit. Achieving Intervener status is the only way to be recognized as a party to the suit. We do not intend to be a mere witness to a lawsuit which will impact our activity.
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