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(UT) USA-ALL challenge of BLM’s use of emergency orders (& SUWA Lawsuit)

Ed A. Stevens

NAXJA Member
NAXJA Member
Depending on the source of reporting, the Utah Shared Access Alliance
either won or lost in court. The Green Gang is spinning the story
that the judge ruled the issues raised by USA-ALL as "moot"; a win
for them.

Well, Brian provides a blow by blow description of what the "moot"
ruling really means.

In short, faced with a court loss, BLM rescinded their previous
actions that triggered the court case. Hence, the BLM acknowledged
their errors and corrected their errors BEFORE the judge had the
opportunity to rule. So, the judge ruled correctly that the issues
were "moot" BECAUSE BLM corrected them without court direction.

USA-ALL deserves a round of applause for a job well done. More and
more, recreation access interests are taking their case to the court
systems. We are now beginning to win cases. This comes at a price.
We need to be better educated and informed. We are also faced with
the need for money. Legal fees are not cheep.

More information about legal defense funds, pending court cases, and
efforts of recreation advocates, plan on attending the United Land
Use Conference, June 25 in Flagstaff, AZ.


Date: Tue, 27 May 2003 13:18:07 -0600
From: Brian Hawthorne <[email protected]>
Organization: Utah Shared Access Alliance

Greetings All,

Last week was busy for USA-ALL's Legal Team. On Wednesday we had
arguments in USA-ALL's lawsuit against the BLM and on Thursday we had
a status hearing on the massive lawsuit filed by the Southern Utah
Wilderness Alliance back in 1999. (Look for yet another update later
in the week for details on the SUWA case.)

Both the Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News wrote stories on
Wednesday's decision. Both weren't accurate and by the time the
Associated Press got hold of the story it was being reported that
Factory Butte, Poison Spider Mesa and Gemini Bridges were closed.

None of these roads were closed and Factory Butte is still open!
(Although camping is now restricted to a few designated camping areas
along Hwy. 313 and the Gemini Bridges Road.)

Here are the details:

USA-ALL challenged a March 28, 2000 “emergency” order that
implemented a Designated Travel System on nearly one million acres of
public lands in Box Elder County. USA-ALL argued that there was no
emergency and that the BLM simply used the emergency order to bypass
public involvement in the creation of the travel plan.

In response, BLM by order dated April 24, 2003, completely revoked
the March 28, 2000 emergency order and a related 1999 emergency
order. BLM simultaneously implemented a smaller emergency order
(170,000 acres).

USA-ALL challenged BLM’s posting of signs, maps and other information
directing motorized users and mountain bikers to remain on
established roads and trails in the Factory Butte area, an area
eminently suitable for open travel, and alleged BLM’s signs violated
land use plan requirements.

In response, BLM withdrew unlawful signs and maps and agreed to use
signs and maps that complied with land use plan requirements.

USA-ALL challenged BLM’s recent implementation of a “Closed Unless
Posted Open” travel management in the Indian Creek Canyon Corridor,
contrary to existing management rules which restrict motorized and
mountain bike access to existing roads and trails.

In response, BLM reversed this unlawful action and has undertaken to
amend unlawful signs to correctly reflect “limited to existing roads
and trails” status.

USA-ALL challenged BLM’s use of emergency orders to amend the Grand
(Moab) Resource Management Plan (RMP) without public involvement.
BLM’s January 22, 2001 orders alleged an “emergency” existed on over
250,000 acres and restricted motorized vehicle use and mountain
biking to existing roads and trails. BLM’s orders also summarily
implemented several no camping zones and restricted all camping
activity to designated campsites without any public input.

On this claim, the court upheld restrictions on condition that BLM
immediately issue a Notice of Intent to revise its RMP to allow
public participation. The court ordered BLM to assure USA-ALL’s
right to participate, and declined to address other issues based upon
BLM’s commitment to immediately engage in planning. The court also
ruled that BLM has a continuing duty to timely review emergency
restrictions and modify or withdraw them if no longer warranted. The
court stated to USA-ALL’s counsel, “You have gotten BLM’s attention.”

It was an unusual to see a ruling from the bench, that's for sure.
Judge Jenkins basically found that because of BLM's actions, our
claims were moot. The Judge is scheduled to sign an order finalizing
his decision in the next weeks. We'll take a close look at that to
see if an appeal is warranted.

USA-ALL pressed our case even after BLM made those changes because of
the importance of dispersed camping to our members and supporters.
The BLM must not be allowed to move dispersed camping into developed
camp areas without following lawful planning procedure. Sadly, the
Judge upheld those restrictions, albeit with the proviso that the BLM
must immediately engage in a public planning process.

Here are the links to the press. Let me caution you, however. The
reporting leaves much to be desired.

Court Bars Camping on Vast Tract

Off-roaders lose challenge to S. Utah road closures
Date: Fri, 30 May 2003 09:46:42 -0700
From: Brian Hawthorne <[email protected]>
Organization: Utah Shared Access Alliance


Last Thursday, I attended a status hearing in the lawsuit that the
Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) filed in 1999. You might
remember, that's the one where SUWA and other Wilderness Advocacy
Groups (WAGs) demanded the immediate closure of nearly 10 million
acres of BLM lands in Utah! We thwarted an early preliminary
injunction demand, but got reversed on appeal so that case is now
back in Utah. Going over the files in preparation for the hearing
brought back a lot of memories.

In October of 1999, when that suit was filed, USA-ALL was barely on
our feet. We had to scramble to intervene in that case so the BLM
(under Babbitt) wouldn't sweetheart-deal us into oblivion.

Since then, USA-ALL's made incredible progress. We've broken new
ground in coordinating and cooperating with other multiple users.
We've engaged in Endangered Species litigation, PWC access to Lake
Powell, the SUWA suit and more. Membership is growing, and not just
USA-ALL's membership. OHV clubs and organizations are springing all
over the place. Business and industry support is increasing every

I'll admit to some healthy pride about where USA-ALL is today
compared to 1999. But I'm proud of something else even more. I'm
proud of you, our members. When we needed it most, you guys were
there for us. You supported us financially and that's what made it
all possible.

I hope those of you who have supported us faithfully for years don't
feel like I'm sounding like a broken record, but I just have to say
it again. Membership is our lifeblood. We can do nothing without the
involvement of our members and supporters.

Last week, USA-ALL was represented by two of the most capable land
use attorneys in the Nation. USA-ALL and our National partner, the
BlueRibbon Coalition (
<http://www.sharetrails.org>http://www.sharetrails.org ) filed for a
Petition for a Writ of Certiorari. That means USA-ALL has petitioned
the Supreme Court to review the 10th Circuit's reversal I mentioned

These are exciting times. Really!

Looking Ahead: An Honest Appraisal
The opportunity to review where we've come from since 1999 is also an
opportunity for us to look toward the future. The big threat on the
horizon (for Utah) is federal land use plan revisions. The Forest
Service and BLM are in the process of updating management plans on
just about every inch of land they manage in Utah. Things are going
to change and OHV users are facing the threat of significant closures.

Let me say this straight: The current manner in which we participate
in planning activities won't cut it. Let me give you an example: Even
after receiving hundreds of letters in support of keeping the Tibble
Fork Trail System open, the new Uinta National Forest Plan closes
nearly 85% of the current opportunity there. If the Wasatch-Cache and
Unita Forest Plans are any indication, OHV users will have to change
the way we do business or we're going to be looking at a lot of gates
on a lot of roads.

Now, think for a second and try and extrapolate that level of closure
for the 9 million acres of BLM lands under planning and for the rest
of Utah's national forests as well. Not a pretty picture, and that's
not factoring in additional lawsuits, endangered species, wilderness
legislation, national monuments etc.

So What Are We Trying To Say?
Is all hope lost? Absolutely not. Remember the lesson of the last 4
years: even with a fraction of the funding, we beat the
environmentalists at their own game.

We have been successful in the past, but that doesn't guarantee
success in the future. The game the WAGs are bringing has stepped up
in intensity. We will have to match that intensity -- or else!

If the battle for keeping public lands open can be described as being
played on 4 major 'playing fields'.
1. Administrative (land use planning)
2. Legislative (the political component includes advancing good
bills, opposing bad bills, electing and influencing good politicians
and defeating bad politicians)
3. Litigation (both offensive and defensive)
4. Public Relations (the battle for the hearts and minds of the general public)

A renewed effort will have to be initiated on each of these 'playing
fields'. Each of us is going to have to step up to the next level of
involvement. Individuals who now are sitting on the sidelines are
going to have to get on the field. People who are engaged in public
lands access efforts are going to have to hone their skills and
increase their effectiveness. And groups like USA-ALL are going to
have to be more productive, more effective and more responsive.

Our Strengths -- Our Weaknesses:

Our Weakness:
Our greatest weaknesses are the WAGs greatest strengths! Are they
Foundation funded lawyers? Million dollar budgets? NO! Their greatest
weapon is our own lack of knowledge and our own apathy!

This is quite a big problem. While its great to see motivated OHV
enthusiasts going into the offices of land managers and talking about
solutions to real land management problems, it doesn't happen enough!

Our strengths:
There is no doubt about this -- Our greatest strength is the combined
efforts of individual clubs and organizations. The Salt Lake Valley
Snowmobile Clubs, Utah Trail Machine Associations, the Utah ATV
Associations, and the Rock Hoppers 4x4 Club's of the world are where
our strength lies, and when they work together really good things
begin to happen!

The power and influence of a local, involved OHV club is huge. These
clubs are the foundation on which state access organizations like
USA-ALL stand, and they also support our national champions like
BlueRibbon and United Four Wheel Drive Association.

OHV clubs are an invaluable resource to land managers. They allow
land managers to leverage grant moneys to supplement budgets, they
help land managers communicate to users, they donate thousands of
volunteer hours, they even help with law enforcement.

That power, when applied correctly, will out influence all of those
foundation funded, multi-million dollar budgeted, fancy suit having,
birkenstocks wearing, Saab driving, talkin' on their cell phone while
tapping on their PDA's envio-lawyers!

Next week, USA-ALL will announce a series of Land Use Seminars
throughout Utah. If your club or organization would like to host one,
please let us know. This information will focus on ways to assist
local clubs and organizations build upon their inherent strengths and
prepare to step up and meet the challenges of the future.

Once again, thank you all for letting me "preach to the choir" so to
speak. Everyone at USA-ALL very much appreciates your support. For
more information on our Pledge Method of support, please go to our
website: <http://www.usa-all.com>http://www.usa-all.com and click
"Membership Info".

Brian Hawthorne
Utah Shared Access Alliance

John Stewart
Director, Environmental Affairs,
United Four Wheel Drive Associations, http://www.ufwda.org
Recreation Access and Conservation Editor, http://www.4x4wire.com
Moderator, MUIRNet - Multiple Use Information Resource Network