WildEarth Guardians

A Force for Nature

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Friends of the Ochocos

Victory for old-growth forest in central Oregon

WildEarth Guardians et al. v. Forson
Case No.
Date Filed
June 28, 2017
State, Venue
Oregon, Oregon Federal District Court
John Mellgren , Susan Jane Brown (Western Environmental Law Center)
Public Lands
In January 2019, a Federal District Court judge in Oregon issued a ruling invalidating a U.S. Forest Service (USFS) plan to construct 137 miles of new off-highway vehicle (OHV) trails in the Ochoco National Forest in central Oregon. Guardians filed suit in June 2017 to challenge an agency decision to develop the Summit Trail System, which would increase the existing network of more than 674 miles of OHV trails by 20 percent. The planned development would bring substantial harm to an already fragile ecosystem and violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the National Forest Management Act (NFMA). The Ochoco National Forest is home to old-growth ponderosa pines, Rocky Mountain elk, mule deer, gray wolves, redband trout, and many other species that would be negatively affected by further motorized trail development.

The project area is already scarred not only by 637 miles of existing OHV trails, but also by more than 700 miles of illegal OHV trails. Adding additional trails to this already fragmented landscape would only cause more sediment erosion into waterways, more disruption to wildlife, and more fragmentation of old-growth forests. The USFS initially approved the trail construction plan despite community disapproval and a report by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that details the harm off-road vehicles would have on elk calving grounds.