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Saturday, July 13, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Groups Challenge Route in Utah Off-Road Plan

OGDEN, Utah (CN) - The Forest Service snuck a 220-mile route for off-road vehicle use into a designated trail system for national forest land near Ogden, Utah, four environmental groups say in Federal Court.

The Sierra Club and three other groups claim the agency "hastily designated" the Shoshone Trail system for off-road vehicle use in 2007, in what they deem an administrative action to avoid environmental analysis.

The travel plan revision added 16 miles of new off-road vehicle trails while disregarding the impacts of 54 miles of unauthorized routes, the lawsuit states.

The upland plateau, rugged mountains and canyons in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest are important for wildlife, the groups say, and the snow that covers the trees is the main water source for the neighboring town of Ogden.

The Forest Service has allegedly promoted and built facilities for the Shoshone Trail system, actions that require environmental analysis.

The revised travel plan failed to consider cumulative effects such as dispersed camping and neglected to analyze mitigation measures or give due consideration to alternatives, the lawsuit claims.

The plaintiffs say the plan not only violates environmental laws, but also goes against presidential orders - originating with Nixon in 1972 and modified by Carter in 1977 - requiring a unified off-road policy and closure of trails causing environmental harm.

The groups, represented by Charles Dubuc of Western Resource Advocates in Salt Lake City, seek a court order invalidating the 2007 travel plan for the Ogden Ranger District.

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