Lawsuit against Santa Fe National Forest travel management plan thrown out

1/04/2017
Cheyenne Cope

SANTA FE N.M. (KRQE) – The U.S. District Court has thrown out a lawsuit from an off-roading organization against the Santa Fe National Forest.

The ATV group was fighting the forest’s Travel Management Plan that would close parts of the forest to motorized use.

It’s been a battle for years now — a lawsuit between the Santa Fe National Forest and the New Mexico off-roading group.

The New Mexico Off Highway Vehicle Alliance has been fighting to keep more of the forest open for ATVs.

“The off-road vehicle group was fighting to have this travel management thrown out,” said John Mellgren, with the Western Environmental Law Center.
The fight is over because the lawsuit has been thrown out.

A federal judge rejected the suit because the off-roading organization lost a nearly identical case just last year.

Officials with the Western Environmental Law Center say this plan protects more than 400,000 acres of the Santa Fe National Forest from motorized vehicle use. It also bans motor vehicles from more than 5,000 miles of paths and trails, keeping them from being torn up.

“It does a good job of striking the balance between protecting the important of natural resources in the Santa Fe National Forest, while also while also allowing for motorized vehicle recreation on the forest,” said a spokesperson.

But ATV groups think they’re being singled out.

“I believe there is a certain way to go about trail management and all that, but I don’t this is the right way,” said Agustin Rael, with a local ATV Group.

Environmentalists also say the decision helps protect threatened species, from Jemez Mountain salamanders and Mexican spotted owls, to Rio Grande cutthroat trout.

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