June 10, 2016

Fighting to keep public lands open to all

By Damien M. Schiff Senior Attorney

Yesterday, we filed our final trial court briefs in Granat v. USDA, PLF’s challenge to the Forest Service’s mass road and trail closure on the Plumas National Forest in northeastern California.  Our case focuses on the agency’s decision to close to all motor vehicle access nearly 700 miles of existing, legally authorized roads and trails without any onsite field verification of the “data” purportedly supporting the closures.  Essentially, the Forest Service converted a transportation plan update into an opportunity to effect a dramatic shutdown of the forest to public access.  We represent a coalition of forest access advocates and local governments, including mobility-impaired individuals who can no longer reach their favorite spots because of the Service’s mass closure.  A hearing on the case is scheduled for July 28 in Sacramento.

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Granat v. U.S. Department of Agriculture

Using the pretext of a transportation plan update, the U.S. Forest Service shut down thousands of previously accessible roads and trails – nearly 700 miles’ worth – within the Plumas National Forest. By forbidding any motor vehicle access, the policy prevents Amy Granat, who cannot walk unaided, from using a motorized vehicle to access vast areas of the forest. Granat and other recreational users of the forest are challenging the Service’s cavalier decision to withhold national forest land from members of the public without justification. The Service failed to comply with federal environmental laws that require a searching investigation of the impacts of barring access.

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