March 18, 2015

Padlocking our national forests?

By Padlocking our national forests?

Pacific Legal Foundation is challenging the U.S. Forest Service’s closure of roads and trails in the Plumas National Forest under the 2005 Travel Management Rule, which will disproportionately impact motorized access by disabled citizens. In a new lawsuit, filed on behalf of individuals, including disabled citizen Amy Granat, as well as off-road recreational organizations and local governments, PLF argues the Service violated the National Environmental Policy Act by failing to adequately analyze the impacts on the human environment of prohibiting motorized travel on thousands of formerly accessible trails and roads within the 1.1 million-acre Plumas National Forest.

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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 challenged 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. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling which affirmed the Forest Service’s travel management rule.

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