Court Rules in BLM Off-Road Vehicle Case
The U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City ruled Friday in a case involving the Off-Road Vehicle management plan of the Bureau of Land Management’s Richfield field office. Heidi McIntosh, an attorney with the environmentalist group Earthjustice, said that the BLM failed to follow rules first put in place over 40 years ago.
“It has been a long time coming, not only the decision but the BLM hasn’t gotten the work done despite the fact that the rules that it was supposed to be following…were put into effect during the Nixon administration,” McIntosh said.
According to regulations, the BLM must set up ORV trails in a way that minimizes impact on the environment and cultural sites. McIntosh said that ORV use can be a pervasive threat when not properly managed, as desert soil can take hundreds of years to heal from scarring. She said that all of the eastern Utah field offices, covering 11 million acres, failed to comply with regulations.
“The Richfield field office is not the only one that shirked its responsibilities. They all did,” she said. “While this case took a number of years to get to this point, I suspect that, because this opinion is a pretty good forecast of what we can expect in the future, that the BLM is going to have to take a wholesale look at the rest of their Off-Road Vehicle designations and make some changes.”
The court ordered the BLM to complete on-the-ground surveys of their ORV paths over the next three years.