OHV Alliance Files Lawsuit Against Santa Fe National Forest Decision

January 2013 Powersport News


Albuquerque, NM - The New Mexico Off Highway Vehicle Alliance (NMOHVA) filed a lawsuit against the Santa Fe National Forest in federal district court on Dec. 11. The lawsuit contests the Forest's Travel Management decision signed by Forest Supervisor Maria T. Garcia on June 12 and upheld by the USFS Region 3 on Oct. 2.

"NMOHVA filed this lawsuit on the behalf of our members but it really is for everyone who uses a vehicle in the forest," NMOHVA President Jim Tyldesley said. "Most of the public have no idea that this decision closed over 70 percent of the existing roads and trails, reduced vehicle camping nearly 95 percent and virtually eliminated hunters being able to use a vehicle to retrieve game. People will be stunned next spring when they find out all of Forest Road 376 in the Jemez is closed to vehicle camping. It was the most popular camping area in the whole forest."

NMOHVA contends the decision and environmental impact statement are illegal because they violate NEPA requirements for analysis and proper science. "The studies from the agency's own scientists concluded that decades of motorized use have not had significant impacts on the land or animals. But the environmental analysis ignored those facts," said Joanne Spivack, NMOHVA Special Projects Coordinator. "They ignored our comments which identified these errors in the EIS and rejected our formal appeal. This lawsuit is the only option left. NEPA is not just a minor inconvenience the agency can evade."

"The Forest Service is breaking its own rules and the federal laws requiring them to make informed, objective decisions," Tyldesley said. "We are New Mexicans supporting New Mexicans. We promote responsible recreation. NMOHVA is working to preserve access to the forests so our kids and grandkids can enjoy them. The Forest Service misled the public about Travel Management, claiming it was to 'manage' motor vehicles. This is not management; it's a wholesale lock-out."

"We have been trying to work with the Santa Fe National Forest since 2005 and they have essentially ignored us," Spivack said. "Simply put, enough is enough. The place to make a stand is here. The time to fight is now."

For more information, contact NMOHVA at (505) 238-5493 or (505) 321-3155. Or visit www.nmohva.org.

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