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National Forest in Arizona Challenged to Protect Wildlife from Motorized Uses

January 25, 2016
Greg Dyson (503) 730-9242 gdyson@wildearthguardians.org
In This Release
#EndTheWarOnWildlife, #ProtectPrairieDogEmpires
Monday, January 25, 2016
National Forest in Arizona Challenged to Protect Wildlife from Motorized Uses

Suit Filed to Stop Excessive Cross-Country Travel by Motor Vehicles
Contact: Greg Dyson (503) 730-9242 gdyson@wildearthguardians.org

Additional Contacts:

Kim Crumbo, Wildlands Network – 928-606-5850,crumbo@wildlandsnetwork.org
Kelly Burke, Grand Canyon WildlandsCouncil – 928-556-9306, kelly@grandcanyonwildlands.org
Sandy Bahr, Sierra Club, GrandCanyon Chapter – 602-999-5790, sandy.bahr@sierraclub.org
John Mellgren, Western Law Environmental Center – 541-359-0990,mellgren@westernlaw.org

PHOENIX, Ariz. – Four conservation groups, represented bythe Western Environmental Law Center, filed suit today against the KaibabNational Forest in Arizona, aiming to protect wildlife and cultural resources frommotorized cross-country travel. At issue are decisions in Travel Management Plansto allow motor vehicles to travel up to one mile off of all open roads. Less than 10 percent of the forest remainsfree from motorized vehicles as a result of the decisions.

“The Kaibab is home to diverse wildlife including rare,unique and sensitive species, such as the Kaibab tassel-eared squirrel foundnowhere else on earth,” said Kim Crumbo of Wildlands Network. “When thedistricts started this travel planning process, we asked them to consider theeffects of off-highway vehicles driving throughout the forest on goshawk, blackbear, and mule deer, but they have ignored our concerns in these plans.”

The 1.5-million-acre national forest is also home to Mexicanspotted owl and California condor, both protected under the Endangered SpeciesAct. The Kaibab surrounds Grand Canyon National Park, borders Vermilion CliffsNational Monument, and contains a stretch of the Arizona Trail on which motorvehicles are not allowed. Gunnison prairie dogs and the rare Arizona bugbane—aplant otherwise known to exist only in central Arizona—also call the Kaibabhome.

“Allowing motor vehicles to drive over most of the forest alsoputs our wilderness areas at risk; areas critical to the long term resilienceof native wildlife and their habitats.” said Kelly Burke of the Grand CanyonWildlands Council in Flagstaff. “Wildernesses such as Kendrick Mountain,Sycamore Canyon, Kanab Creek, and Saddle Mountain are much more likely to sufferdamaging intrusions of motor vehicles if we don’t take action to stop thesedecisions.”

“Motorized cross-country travel causes severe damage towatershed and wildlife habitat,” said Greg Dyson of WildEarth Guardians. “TheKaibab was required to close motorized cross-country travel, which they did,but they then used the big game retrieval exception—an exception that must beused sparingly—to allow OHVs virtually everywhere on the forest. It’s aloophole that places most of the forest at risk to damage and abuse.”

“If we look at past numbers of big game retrieved on theforest, we could be looking at close to 2,000 motorized round-trips allowed annuallyby these decisions. That is a lot of off-road travel, and would significantlyharm wildlife, cultural resources, and wild places, plus impair quietrecreation for the vast majority of forest users,” said Sandy Bahr of theSierra Club.

Acopy of the complaint is available here.



Other Contact
Kim Crumbo, Wildlands Network – 928-606-5850, crumbo@wildlandsnetwork.orgKelly Burke, Grand Canyon Wildlands Council – 928-556-9306, kelly@grandcanyonwildlands.orgSandy Bahr, Sierra Club, Grand Canyon Chapter – 602-999-5790, sandy.bahr@sierraclub.orgJohn Mellgren, Western Law Environmental Center – 541-359-0990, mellgren@westernlaw.org