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Oregon Group Challenges BLM on Roads in Steen Mountains

PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) - In defiance of a court order, the Bureau of Land Management illegally approved vehicle travel on 519 miles of roads and trails in federally protected Steens Mountain in southeast Oregon, the Oregon Natural Desert Association claims in Federal Court.

According to the complaint: "This case seeks injunctive relief and judicial reversal of the Bureau of Land Management's ('BLM') decision authorizing the Steens Mountain Travel Management Plan ('TMP'). The TMP permanently establishes motorized travel on 519 miles of vehicle routes within a congressionally protected area on Steens Mountain in southeast Oregon's fragile high desert. Despite this Court's 2006 ruling that an earlier incarnation of this plan failed to meet Congress's directive that the agency prepare a 'comprehensive' travel plan for motorized and nonmotorized travel on Steens Mountain, BLM has once again issued a travel decision fundamentally inconsistent with the law. The TMP fails to plan for nonmotorized travel on Steens Mountain, and permanently opens to motorized use hundreds of miles of routes that are eroded, washed out, difficult to travel, overgrown, redundant and in some cases virtually nonexistent. BLM's decision to open these routes to public motorized use violates an express statutory prohibition on off-road vehicle use and creation of new motorized vehicle routes on Steens Mountain. If implemented as proposed, BLM's TMP will destroy roadless sagebrush steppe habitat and wilderness values throughout this remarkable, nationally significant landscape."

Plaintiffs are represented by Peter Lacy.

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