Vallejo, CA -- The BlueRibbon Coalition/Sharetrails.org (BRC) has submitted objections to the Eldorado National Forest Draft Record of Decision Over-Snow Vehicle Use Designation. The project follows a settlement agreement in prior litigation and requires the Forest Service to issue snowmobile plans for five high elevation California forests.
The Eldorado is now the second forest in that sequence, with the Lassen National Forest issuing its Draft Decision in March 2018 and response to objections, including BlueRibbon's, in September, 2018.
"The Eldorado has made a few welcome adjustments to facilitate historical snowmobile access, but generally continues the trend that where the Forest Service analyzes motorized access it taketh away," said Paul Turcke, lead counsel for BlueRibbon. "We remain strongly opposed to inflexible minimum snow depth prescriptions and are particularly concerned by the Eldorado's reduction of designated snowmobile areas from 435,600 acres in the Proposed Action to 337,100 acres in the Draft Decision."
Once objections are resolved, as has occurred for the Lassen, the Forest will address any instructions and issue a Final Record of Decision. That Final Decision will typically be implemented and govern day-to-day travel, and creates jurisdiction for any renewed legal challenge(s).
"We will continue to monitor and engage in these plans to the extent we are empowered by our local members and supporters," Spencer Gilbert, BlueRibbon Coalition Executive Director, said. "We are committed to fundamentals and a prominent focus on our Legal Program, which in the winter recreation arena has unparalleled experience and success working alongside key partners like the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association (ISMA) and the American Council of Snowmobile Associations (ACSA). We stand ready in anticipation of whatever next chapter unfolds in the California winter use saga."
BlueRibbon's Eldorado objections can be viewed here. The Objection Reviewing Officer may decide to conduct a "resolution meeting" to clarify or explore possible outcomes and will otherwise issue a formal objection response that instructs the Forest how to proceed.