Land closed to protect tortoise to be reopened


Active Member
Land closed to protect tortoise to be reopened for off-roading

While the major theme of this article deals with motorized recreation
and the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area, the specter of
"threatened and endangered species" extends past the dunes area.

This is a win; it is not the end of the fight for access to public lands.


Land closed to protect tortoise to be reopened for off-roading
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By Dwight Daniels

April 10, 2003

Even as off-road vehicle enthusiasts filed a lawsuit in Salt Lake
City yesterday to force the federal government to protect an
endangered desert tortoise, they received news that land previously
closed to protect the species will be reopened for off-roading.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued an opinion in El Centro
that called for reopening the popular Imperial Sand Dunes for
recreational use despite concerns over the tortoise and the
purple-flowered Peirson's milk-vetch.

The announcement came as part of a long-awaited recreation management
plan for eastern Imperial County, one of the nation's most popular
off-road areas.

The opinion did not sit well with environmentalists who said they may
challenge it in court.

"It's really a sad day for anyone that believes in balanced land
management or using good science," said desert ecologist Daniel
Patterson of the Center for Biological Diversity.

In February, off-road vehicle enthusiasts had sued the Fish and
Wildlife Service to force it to decide whether to remove the
"threatened" designation from the milk-vetch that has kept them
of nearly 50,000 acres of desert sand dunes overseen by the U.S.
Bureau of Land Management.

Now off-roaders are hoping their newest lawsuit in Salt Lake City
will ultimately pressure the Interior Department to reopen more than
6 million acres of land where the endangered tortoise exists.

The reptile, living in the Mojave and Colorado/Sonoran deserts of
California, southern Nevada, southwestern Utah and northwestern
Arizona, was first listed as endangered in 1989 after
upper-respiratory-tract infections began harming tortoise populations.

"The agency has spent millions and denied access to large areas of
land, but the tortoise is closer to extinction than it ever was,"
said David Hubbard, an attorney representing the off-roaders, among
them the San Diego Off-Road Coalition.

If the tortoise population continues to stagger, the off-roaders may
never be able to return to the land they wish to use, he said.
Off-roaders want the bureau and other federal agencies to act to save
the tortoise so they can return to the desert.

"We simply are demanding that these government agencies comply with
their own regulations and take a close examination of the millions of
acres that have been needlessly closed," said Michelle Cassella of
the American Motorcycle Association.

In the El Centro opinion issued yesterday, Fish and Wildlife Service
officials called for monitoring the milk-vetch population over the
next four years to determine if it drops below a certain threshold.

The opinion said the tortoise population isn't likely to be harmed by
the decision to allow recreational use since it is most prevalent on
the periphery of the species' range.

Still, officials will be required to increase public awareness about
the tortoise and develop a means for individual sightings to be
recorded and tortoise deaths to be reported.

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

NOTE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted
material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have
expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit
research and educational purposes only. For more information go to:

John Stewart
Director, Environmental Affairs,
United Four Wheel Drive Associations,
Recreation Access and Conservation Editor,
Moderator, MUIRNet - Multiple Use Information Resource Network

A fundamental law of public land access is:

Increased habitat designation for threatened and endangered species
is directly proportional to loss of access to public lands.



Well-Known Member
Now the war begins! The Environmental Extremists will undoubtedly sue to stop this reopening and the Green Majority on the Off Road Commission will continue to withold Green Sticker Money from the ISDRA. Besides AMA, other off road groups have been involved in this on going fight. These Organizations need your financial support because the fight is not over. Those orgainzations involved in this ongoing battle are:

American Sand Association (ASA)
American Motorcyclist Association District 37 Sports Committee (AMA D-37)
California Off Road Vehicle Association (CORVA)
Off Road Business Association (ORBA)
San Diego Off Road Coalition (SDORC)

April. 15, 2003Phone: (614) 856-1900
For Immediate ReleaseFax: (614) 856-1920

Federal Agency Gives Green Light to Reopen Glamis

PICKERINGTON,Ohio -- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has issued an opinion that clears the way for the reopening of more than 49,000 acres of southern California desert closed several years ago to off-highway vehicle use, the American Motorcyclist Association reports.

In short, the federal agency said that the BLM's plan to allow OHV use of the land doesn't pose a risk to threatened and endangered species there, and that monitoring of the species should be done.

The reopening would partially reverse a closure enacted by the federal Bureau of Land Management in late 2000 that affected 49,305 acres in the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area, known to OHV enthusiasts as Glamis because of its proximity to that city in far southern California. The closure was part of an out-of-court settlement of a lawsuit filed by anti-access groups that alleged the BLM failed to properly consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concerning the effects of the BLM-administeredCaliforniaDesert Conservation Area Plan on a number of threatened and endangered species.

The BLM's Draft Recreation Area Management Plan for the Glamis area could be finalized as early as mid-summer, which would reopen riding areas.

As part of the out-of-court settlement, the BLM agreed to consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service. As a result of that consultation and research, the Fish and Wildlife Service issued an opinion this month that states allowing OHV use "is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of (the threatened) Peirson's milk-vetch" plant, and the desert tortoise.

The federal agency calls for monitoring the plant and tortoise populations to ensure they remain healthy.

Last year, the BLM released its Draft Environmental Impact Statement and Draft Recreation Area Management Plan for the Imperial Sand Dues Recreation Area that would reopen about 16,000 acres of the Glamis area to unrestricted OHV use. In addition, more than 33,000 acres would be reopened to limited use, with a restriction on the number of riders allowed. A maximum of 525 vehicles would be allowed each day in that area for a year while the BLM monitors the impacts on plants and animals. Changes would then be made on OHV use of the parcel, if necessary.

"This is a significant development for all the OHV enthusiasts who ride at Glamis," said AMA Western States Representative Nick Haris. "Under the terms of the California Desert Conservation Area Plan, open motorized recreation was restricted to less than 2 percent of the CaliforniaDesert. With this closure, even that tiny amount was in danger of disappearing."

Glamis is an extremely popular recreation area for motorcyclists, ATV riders, four-wheel-drive vehicle enthusiasts and others. The BLM reports an estimated 100,000 people use the dunes some holiday weekends. The area is about 40 miles long, five miles wide, and has dunes that rise 300 feet above the valley floor.

The AMA "Save Our Trails" Fund, which ended this month, paid out more than $50,000 to AMA District 37 for legal expenses in the District's battle to protect off-highway riding areas in California.

When the program began a year ago, the AMA pledged to match contributions dollar for dollar, up to $50,000. District 37 played an important role in the fight to reopen Glamis.


The American Motorcyclist Association is a nonprofit organization with more than 250,000 members. Established in 1924, the Association's purpose is to pursue, protect and promote the interests of motorcyclists, while serving the needs of its members. For more information, visit the AMA website at

<font color=yellow>Paige<font color=yellow>


Well, I just want to say that I really like turtles and tortoises. they are really neat. I have a water turtle named "fat booty" and a small tortoise named "sandy"..well, thats all..


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