On Monday (July 24), the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the second lawsuit by an off-road vehicle advocacy organization challenging the U.S. Forest Service’s 2012 decision reining in motor vehicle travel on the Santa Fe National Forest. WildEarth Guardians and Sierra Club, represented by the Western Environmental Law Center, intervened in the first lawsuit filed by an off-road vehicle advocacy organization case to defend the Forest Service’s decision.
Before 2012, the Forest Service allowed motorized vehicles to travel uninhibited (“off road”) across the Santa Fe National Forest, without regard for damage to natural resources, harassment of wildlife, or disruption of quiet landscapes.
The Santa Fe travel management plan protects forest resources and wildlife—including Mexican spotted owls, Jemez mountain salamanders, and New Mexico jumping mice—by restricting motorized use to identified routes and areas. It also balances uses on the forest. The decision removed more than 5,000 miles of motorized routes, paths, and trails, but allowed motorized use to continue on more than 2,400 miles of routes in the forest.