9th Circuit OKs Mining, Vehicle Limits in Forest

     (CN)- The Forest Service has the authority to limit motor vehicles and mining activities in California’s Eldorado National Forest, the 9th Circuit ruled Wednesday.
     The federal appeals court in San Francisco rejected a challenge to a 2008 decision by seven miners and prospectors and the group Public Lands for the People.
     The move limits the use of motor vehicles in the forest to about 1,000 miles of roads and 200 miles of trails, and requires miners to seek prior approval for access. Before 2008, about 500,000 acres of the forest were open to motor- vehicle.
     The miners argued that they should not be forced to obtain advance approval to access their claims or prospect for minerals, because, among other things, the Forest Service lacks authority to restrict motor vehicles.
     Presiding U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton dimissed the case in Sacremento, finding that the miners did not have standing to sue because their complaint wasn’t specific enough.
     A three-judge appeals panel disagreed on that point, but affirmed dismissal of the case nonetheless.
     “The miners had standing to bring this suit,” wrote Judge M. Margaret McKeown for the unanimous panel. “Still, the Forest Service acted within its authority when it prohibited cross country vehicle traffic and limited motor vehicle use to certain designated roads in the ENF.”

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