Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Thousands of Imperial Sand Dune Acres to be Kept Open After Appeals Court Sides With BLM

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) plan to expand OHV access in the California Imperial Sand Dunes, ruling it complied with the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The three-judge panel rejected every argument from environmentalists against the BLM’s plan for the popular OHV area just above the Mexican border. Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain wrote in an opinion that the court considered the effects of the BLM’s plan on the Peirson’s milkvetch, a purple-flowered plant protected under the ESA and that it compiled with the Clean Air Act and several other environmental laws. The heart of this case resides around OHV use in the North Algodones Dunes where all 26,098 acres of dunes would be off limits to OHV use. Milkvetch critical habitat located on 9,261 acres in the dunes would be restricted as well. In consultation with the BLM and the Fish and Wildlife Service a biological opinion was issued in which the plan to keep these areas open was not likely to jeopardize the existence of the threatened milkvetch plant or Mojave desert turtle...more

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