PUBLIC LAND ACCESS GROUPS FILE SUIT AGAINST DEPART

Paige

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PUBLIC LAND ACCESS GROUPS FILE SUIT AGAINST DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR
AND SUBORDINATE AGENCIES

Motorized Recreation Organizations Charge Federal Agencies With
Impeding Recovery of Threatened Desert Tortoise

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - A coalition of motorized recreation
organizations filed suit today against the Department of Interior and
two of its subordinate agencies in Federal District Court in Utah for
knowingly and negligently impeding the recovery of the threatened
Mojave Desert Tortoise, violating the federal Endangered Species Act.

Also named in the suit along with the Department of Interior are
the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management.

Plaintiffs in the case include the American Motorcycle
Association (AMA) District 37, Utah Shared Access Alliance (USA-ALL),
the Off-Road Business Association (ORBA), California Off-Road Vehicle
Association (CORVA) and the San Diego Off-Road Coalition (SDORC).

The organizations claim that the federal agencies failed to take
reasonable steps to arrest the spread of Upper Respiratory Tract
Disease, which is suspected to be the primary cause of the dramatic
decline in the population of the desert tortoise.

"The Department of Interior's efforts to recover the desert
tortoise have been an abject failure," said David Hubbard, an
environmental attorney who filed the suit on behalf of the recreation
groups. "Millions of dollars have been spent and millions of acres
of federal land have been closed off to public use, yet the tortoise
continues to spiral towards extinction."

The desert tortoise, found in the Mojave and Colorado/Sonoran
deserts of California, southern Nevada, southwestern Utah and
northwestern Arizona, was first listed as threatened in 1989. Since
then, the U.S. Government has designated more than six million acres
as critical habitat for the species and has spent more than $100
million on tortoise recovery.

A member of the coalition, Michelle Cassella of AMA District 37,
said, "the federal agencies are being driven to closure decisions by
environmental lawsuits and fail to consider the science or economical
impact of the communities that are affected. Recent studies funded
by the U.S. government itself clearly indicate that in many cases the
public has little or no adverse impact on threatened species."

"Speaking for the thousands of stakeholders who have an interest
in this critical issue, we are appalled that our federal agencies
have not shown any efforts to implement an immediate strategy to
address known existing problems such as Upper Respiratory Tract
Disease, herpes disease, shell diseases, or the raven predation
problem," said Roy Denner, president and CEO of ORBA. "Their remedy
has been to remove cattle, vehicles, and humans from desert tortoise
habitat, which we believe will eventually lead to the total demise of
the tortoise."

Additionally, the suit charges that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife
Service has failed to review and adjust the 1994 Desert Tortoise
Recovery Plan, even though the plan, by its own terms, requires such
review and adjustment every three to five years.

"We are not seeking any compensatory damages with this filing,"
Cassella said. "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
to recreationists, cattle ranchers, and other groups whose livelihood
depends on the desert. The desert tortoise will soon be extinct if
the federal government does not radically change its recovery
approach."

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

Jerry Zaiden

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Could you imagine if they spent $100 Million dollars on breeding the Desert Tortoise to normal population levels?
 

martininsocal

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Jerry- it has been offered and rejected by the environmentalists. CORVA offered to fund a Head Startin program to breed and release tortoises. The Environmentalists refuse to let any "captive" tortoise back into the desert. Not natural enough for them. I guess it is alright for the Condor, but not the Tortoise.

Martin

If your gonna go, go BIG
 

tedmales

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nothing suits the environmentalists except them getting their way. i think my girlfriend might be a closet enviromentalist. she is never happy either. ha. if it wa up to them we would live in caves and eat only tree bark that fell off the tree, we wouldn't be able to peel it off.


life is too short to be small
 
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