Although the agency originally proposed motorcycles on trails from July 1 until Sept. 8, the final decision expanded the seasonal dates to allow motorcycles on trails from June 1 through October 31 each year. These dates fail to protect elk calving in the spring and the elk rut during mating season in the fall.
In fall of 2018, WildEarth Guardians, San Juan Citizens Alliance, Dunton Hot Springs, Inc., and Sheep Mountain Alliance filed a petition challenging the seasonal dates for motorcycle trail use that would harm elk and other wildlife as well as quiet use. As life-long residents, local business owners, local landowners, and public lands recreationists, our coalition is very interested in protecting elk and crucial elk habitat on the San Juan National Forest. Elk are an icon on the Rico West Dolores landscape of expansive mesas and snow-covered peaks.
The petition alleges the Forest Service violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by failing to take the required hard look at impacts from the project. The petition also alleges the Forest Service’s decision is inconsistent with the 2013 San Juan Forest Plan, in violation of the National Forest Management Act (NFMA). The groups also filed a motion to defend the U.S. Forest Service’s decision, in part, to the extent that it eliminates uncontrolled cross-country motorized use on more than 250,000 acres of the Rico-West Dolores landscape against a lawsuit filed by off-road motorcycle groups.