Reno, NV -- Recreational organizations in late December filed a lawsuit challenging restrictions on permits for motorcycle and other vehicle events within the range of the Bi State sage grouse. The grouse is a "distinct population segment" within the larger range of the Greater sage grouse, an iconic bird of the high desert lately distinguished by high controversy over its status and continuing management.
The lawsuit focuses on changes made by the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest as part of a settlement with special interest led by the Center for Biological Diversity. Under the settlement, the Forest Service agreed that motorcycle or other off-road vehicle events would not be authorized on routes passing within four miles of grouse breeding sites at any time of day between March 1 and June 30. The lands affected by the event stipulations are in extreme northeastern California and northwestern Nevada. The Plaintiffs in the lawsuit are the Sierra Trail Dogs Motorcycle and Recreation Club, the Pine Nut Mountains Trails Association, the American Motorcyclist Association District 36, California Four Wheel Drive Association and the BlueRibbon Coalition.
"Riding on existing dirt roads and single-track trails was acknowledged to be no more than a tertiary threat to grouse, even during the height of Obama 'Grouseketeer' planning," Jim Fulling, planner for the Trail Dog's annual Mystery 250 motorcycle event, said. "The Forest's initial plan would have imposed three mile buffers around grouse breeding grounds between March 1 and May 15 prior to 10 a.m., when there was at least a rational possibility that birds were on the leks. We would have lived with those requirements, but the Forest sadly caved to the arbitrary restrictions demanded by deep-pocketed preservationists with a proclivity toward litigation. We may be a peashooter to their bazooka, but we see little option but to enter this fray."
The case was filed in the U.S. District of Nevada, Reno Division. The recreational plaintiffs are represented by Paul Turcke of Boise, ID, and John Boyden of Reno, NV. A copy of the complaint can be viewed here.