San Francisco, CA - A coalition of access advocacy groups has successfully become parties in the latest round of lawsuits addressing management of Forest Service "Roadless" areas. In an order issued on March 31, 2006, U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Laporte partially granted intervention in the cases to the California Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs, United Four Wheel Drive Associations the American Council of Snowmobile Associations, and the BlueRibbon Coalition. The court granted the recreational groups full party status in any "remedy phase" of the cases, finding that the groups "do claim general interests in the use and enjoyment of roadless areas..." and that "the input of the [groups] could assist the Court in fashioning relief, if any."
"We are pleased with this outcome and the Court's acknowledgement that these organizations have a potential role in this litigation," stated Paul Turcke, the Boise, Idaho, attorney serving as lead counsel for the Recreational Groups. "The tale of 'roadless' rules and litigation has been a tortuous one, and these organizations felt it important to obtain party status lest the future reveal unforeseen developments within or beyond this litigation." Turcke observed.
The lawsuits at issue were brought by the states of California, Oregon and New Mexico and numerous environmental organizations led by the Wilderness Society. Both consolidated cases are being heard in the U.S. Northern District of California and seek to have the 2005 Bush Administration Roadless Rule declared invalid and to reinstate the 2001 Clinton Administration Roadless Rule. The State of Washington has moved to intervene in the case as a plaintiff, and the State of Montana has filed a "friend of the court" brief supporting the plaintiffs, effectively declaring the support of these states for 2001 Rule. While the 2001 Roadless Rule was challenged in at least ten lawsuits in courts across the country, no party other than the Recreational Groups has moved to obtain intervenor status on the side of the Bush Administration defendants and in support of the Forest Service's 2005 Rule.
Both sides are filing dispositive motions in the case, which are scheduled for oral arguments on July 25, 2006.
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