Federal judge orders Eldorado Forest routes reopened | RecordCourier.com

Federal judge orders Eldorado Forest routes reopened

Staff Reports

A federal judge has ordered opened parts of 42 off-highway-vehicle routes in the Eldorado National Forest that don’t intersect meadows today.

The order issued by U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence Karlton found that the U.S. Forest Service has remedied an Endangered Species Act violation and no further action is required.

Portions of the routes that cross meadows will remain closed while the Forest Service completes an environmental analysis.

According to the Forest Service, the meadow routes encompass a total of about 135 miles. Under today’s order, access will be restored on about 46 miles of those routes, while about 89 miles will remain closed.

“We’re concerned these closures are unnecessary and issued without legally required findings,” said California Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs President Mark Cave. “But the interim status was complete closure of the 42 routes, so even this result is a step forward that allows some access.”

Karlton ruled in February that 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. Karlton ordered the Forest Service to set aside the decision that designated these segments as open and to reconsider the decision.

Karlton ordered the 42 routes remain closed to motorized public use. The final order identifies specifically where travel will be prohibited until a new environmental decision is made.