SACRAMENTO – Senator Ted Gaines (R-Rocklin) today expressed disappointment in the U.S. District Court’s decision to close 42 off-highway-vehicle routes that cross meadows in the Eldorado National Forest to motor vehicle travel this recreation season until the Forest Service completes an environmental analysis.
“This is yet another example of activist courts making decisions that are not in the best interests of the people and threaten rural economies,” said Gaines. “Thousands of outdoor enthusiasts flock to the trails each year. Protecting the environment is a big concern for us all, but I am certain there are ways we can address the issue and its potential impacts without closing the trails.”
The travel prohibitions are the result of a February 2012 court order by U.S. District Court. The order said the Forest Service failed to comply with the National Forest Management Act in 2008 when it designated “open for public motor vehicle use” portions of 42 routes that cross meadows.
A final court order with further direction to the Forest Service is pending. In the interim, the court ordered the 42 routes remain closed to motorized public use. The final order will identify specifically where travel will be prohibited until a new environmental decision is made.
“Closing these trails for a solid year or more is absolutely the wrong approach,” said Gaines. “Off-roading is a major hobby enjoyed by people from across the country and is a contributor to our state and region’s economy. I don’t see why these trails, which have been used for decades, can’t remain open until the environmental study is complete.”
Senator Gaines plans to follow this issue closely and will share updates on the status of the final court order.
Maps and a complete list of the routes affected by the court order will be posted on the Eldorado National Forest website at: http://www.fs.usda.gov/eldorado. These maps will be modified to reflect the final court order once it is received.
A free-of-charge motor vehicle use map that shows the routes that are open to wheeled motor vehicle use will be available at all Eldorado National Forest offices in June 2012 reflecting the final order.
Senator Ted Gaines represents the 1st Senate District, which includes all or parts of Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Lassen, Modoc, Mono, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento and Sierra counties.