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By: Robert Janis

Traditional Battle between Environmentalists and OHV Users Reaching New Level

Continued from page 1...

 Carnegie

State Parks and the Attorney General's Office of California have appealed the decision to a three-judge panel. In support of that effort are the American Motorcyclist Association District 36, CarnegieForever.org, the California Off-Highway Vehicle Association, the BlueRibbon Coalition and the California 4Wheel Drive Association.

Some have asked why OHV legal interests did not intervene when the suit was originally filed.

"The whole thing is complicated," explained Amador. "In order for the BlueRibbon Coalition to be a part of the proceedings, we must be invited in or we must partition the court and the Attorney General's Office. The Attorney General's Office and State Parks didn't think they needed the help of a third party because they thought that the judge was going to rule against the environmentalists and keep the park open. He surprised everyone with his last minute decision. Now it is rather difficult for BlueRibbon to get involved." However, BlueRibbon is monitoring the case; and if an appropriate opportunity presents itself, the organization will get involved.

The Panel has decided to keep the park open as it reviews the issue. "They may end up being a moderating force in the legal process," said Amador. "Often times a three- judge panel will countermand an activist judge. We're hoping that the three judge panel will, at the end of the day, let common sense prevail and allow the agencies to work the issue out themselves just as it has been done in the past."

Clear Creek Management Area

 Clear Creek Management Area Meeting

The Clear Creek Management Area is administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). It is a 70,000 acre facility that was closed in 2008 when the Environmental Protection Agency determined that there were health risks due to the natural presence of asbestos. "I fear that an alliance between the environmental groups and people within the Environmental Protection Agency and other environmental departments put pressure on the BLM to order an emergency closure," said Amador. The area has been closed to all users, not just off-highway vehicle enthusiasts. "That includes hikers, mountain bikers, hunters and more," said Amador.

Currently, BLM is doing an Environmental Planning Document. "They just released their Draft Environmental Impact Statement in December 2009," said Amador. "At the end of January they held public meetings in Northern California that were well attended by California off-roaders and other user groups. Now we are in a comment period that ends on March 5."

BlueRibbon will be submitting comments challenging the science and will call for the area to be re-opened to OHV users.

"Once the comment period is over, we have to wait for the final Record of Decision. Based on what that is, we will support or challenge it," said Amador.

The area will be closed at least through January 2011. "Emergency closures are hard to challenge in court because the courts tend to give discretion to executive branch agencies," said Amador.

BlueRibbon among other groups are mobilizing OHV'ers to respond to both the Clear Creek and the Carnegie Park issues. Information can be found on the Clear Creek issue at the Friends of Clear Creek Managing area (www.foccma.org). More information on the Carnegie Park issue can be found at www.carnegieforever.org. BlueRibbon Coalition is following both. Its site is: www.sharetrails.org.

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