Emergency Closure Request For Motorized Use in the Ashland Resource Area

July 14, 2015

Dayne Barron
Area Manager
Medford District BLM
3040 Biddle Road
Medford, OR 97504

Re: Emergency Closure Request For Motorized Use in the Ashland Resource Area.


Greetings Mr. Barron,

The purpose of this correspondence is to request an emergency closure of unauthorized off-highway vehicle (OHV) trails on the Ashland Resource Area of the Medford District BLM. We are requesting OHV closure due to ongoing and significant resource impacts including botanical damage, hydrological values, continuing private land trespass, wilderness quality habitats, and fisheries. Unauthorized OHV trails in need of emergency closure are identified in the attached Applegate Valley OHV Monitoring Project Report, BLM Monitoring Report.

Considerable adverse effects are occurring and a comprehensive strategy is necessary to protect the areas identified from additional OHV damage. Pursuant to the Administrative Procedures Act (“APA”), 5 U.S.C. §551, the petitioners request that the Medford District BLM issue an emergency closure order for the trails, hill climbs and areas identified in the attached Monitoring Report.

The Medford District BLM has jurisdiction over these public lands. This Petition initiates a process with definite response requirements on the agency. Specifically, the BLM must respond to this petition and must issue a closure order for the area covered in this petition upon a finding that OHV activity in these areas has caused or will cause “considerable adverse effects . . . upon soil, vegetation, wildlife, wildlife habitat, cultural resources, historical resources, threatened or endangered species, wilderness suitability, other authorized uses, or other resources.” Exec. Order 11644, 11989 at § 9; 36 C.F.R. § 212.52(b)(2). Petitioners need only demonstrate “considerable adverse effects” resulting from OHV activity. No other showing is required under the Executive Orders or BLM regulations.

This Petition and the attached Monitoring Report demonstrates that OHVs are causing considerable adverse effects to these areas. Therefore, Petitioners request that the BLM immediately publish an OHV closure order for these public lands in the Federal Register. The APA requires each federal agency to conclude a matter presented to it in a reasonable time. 5 U.S.C. § 555(b).

Notably, such mandatory closures must remain in effect “until such time as [the BLM] determines that such adverse effects have been eliminated and that measures have been implemented to prevent future recurrence.” Exec. Order 11644, 11989 at § 9; see also 36 C.F.R. § 212.52(b)(2). Please note that the Executive Orders also require the agency to “minimize damage to soil, watershed, vegetation, or other resources” from motorized trail and area designations and to ensure management is “based upon the protection of the resources of the public lands, promotion of the safety of all users and those lands, and [the] minimization of conflicts among the various uses of those lands.” Indeed, the Executive Orders create a non-discretionary duty to enforce a closure on motorized use whenever such use “will cause or is causing considerable adverse effects.”

The BLM is well within its authority to issue these closures without additional NEPA analysis. An Area Manager or State Director may, by order, “close or restrict the use of described areas within the area over which they have jurisdiction.” 36 C.F.R. § 261.50(a). Such “[a]n order may close an area to entry or may restrict the use of an area by applying any or all of the prohibitions authorized in this subpart or any portion thereof.” Id.

Conclusion.

We urge you to use your authority to immediately close to motorized vehicles in the area petitioned.

We are also requesting that the agency promptly begin development of a Restoration and Monitoring Plan to identify and schedule the remedial activities that are needed to restore areas that have been damaged by motorized vehicle use within the petitioned area. The most pressing matter is preventing further damage and degradation from occurring. Thus, the requested Closure Order should be issued immediately and the Restoration and Monitoring Plan should be developed as expeditiously as possible afterwards. If the BLM need assistance finding the routes, hill climbs, and trails described in the attached Monitoring Report please contact Luke Ruediger from the Siskiyou Crest Blog. His contact is listed below. It is essential that the Closure Order as well as the Restoration and Monitoring Plan be supported by agency law enforcement.


Thank you for your consideration.

Luke Ruediger
The Siskiyou Crest Blog/Applegate Valley OHV Monitoring Project


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