Center for Biological Diversity
The Eldorado National Forest has withdrawn its approval of a five-year special event permit for dirt bike “enduro” races in the Rock Creek Recreational Trails Area in response to an appeal by the Center for Sierra Nevada Conservation and the Center for Biological Diversity. Advocates for quiet recreation, clean water, and wildlife habitat challenged the permit for failing to provide adequate environmental review of impacts to soil, water and air quality, riparian habitats, and imperiled species, including the California red-legged frog and western pond turtle.
“The Forest Service cannot continue to ignore the significant impacts off-road vehicle events have on the forest – tearing up soils, damaging creek banks and beds, and polluting the air,” said Lisa Belenky, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Soils loosened by these events wash into creeks and rivers as soon as rain comes, reducing water quality for downstream users and hurting important riparian and aquatic habitat for many species.”
“Everyone has a right to enjoy our forests,” said Karen Schambach, president of Center for Sierra Nevada Conservation. “But nobody has the right to destroy them. These races are a commercial boon to the off-road industry at the expense of California’s clean water and healthy forests. An Enduro in this same location just a few weeks ago, at the peak of fire season, put not just the forest but our community at risk.”
Unmanaged outdoor recreation, in particular off-road vehicle use, was identified by former Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth in 2005 as one of the four principle threats to our national forests. While at the policy level the Forest Service has recognized the potential great harm vehicles can cause to the national forests and the plants and wildlife found in them, forest managers have largely failed to take seriously the need to minimize these impacts to our public lands.