View Full Version : Supreme Court Victory For Ohvers!!

06-15-2004, 10:52 PM
From another list I belong to. If you think your letters and support of the BRC don't matter; think again! Kudos to all the clubs who pay BRC dues to help them help us.

>From: bralerts@s...
>To: <noreply@s...>
>Date: Tue, 15 Jun 2004 12:36:00 -0600
>***** BRC ALERT ***** BRC ALERT ***** BRC ALERT ***** BRC ALERT *****
>Greetings BlueRibbon Coalition members and supporters,
>It is an absolute pleasure to share the great news about the Supreme Court
>ruling announced yesterday. In a rare 9 to 0 decision, the Supreme Court
>upheld a Utah District Court ruling dismissing claims brought by the Southern
>Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) and several other anti-access groups in a
>lawsuit originally filed against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Utah.
>In October of 1999, Rainer Huck, president of the Utah Shared Access Alliance
>(USA-ALL) contacted BRC with advance word that SUWA was filing a very large
>lawsuit against the BLM. Among other things, SUWA demanded the court ban all
>vehicle use on nearly 10 million acres! The national significance of the
>lawsuit was immediately apparent. We had to move to intervene fast in order
>to prevent an out of court, ?sweet heart? settlement.
>Soon after we were granted intervention, SUWA filed for a Temporary
>Restraining Order, asking the court to immediately close nine popular OHV
>areas. After five days of court testimony, the judge granted a motion offered
>by BRC that dismissed most of SUWA?s claims.
>BRC and USA-ALL argued SUWA?s claims are about the sufficiency of BLM?s
>management of OHV use, and represents a ?management through litigation?
>approach in an attempt to force the BLM into SUWA?s preferred management
>option, which is to close large areas to vehicle access. We also argued that
>effective solutions to management challenges require a balance of resource
>needs and local human interests. This balance is best reached when the BLM
>involves all public land visitors in its decisions.
>BRC and USA-ALL argued that responsible recreational use, even the OHV use
>occurring inside Wilderness Study Areas, is properly occurring through
>coordination and collaboration with state, counties and OHV user groups. The
>BLM noted that while there may be some illegal OHV use occurring, they
>refuted SUWA?s allegations about the overall damage OHV use is causing. The
>areas have been the subject of extensive analysis and management planning by
>BLM to manage these areas responsibly.
>The Court granted BRC?s motion to dismiss pertaining to the areas involved in
>the Preliminary Injection request, with prejudice, and denied SUWA?s
>Preliminary Injunction Motion as moot. The Court?s decision denying SUWA?s
>motion was immediately appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth
>Circuit. But that decision was reversed by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.
> Both the BLM and the OHV groups petitioned for review with the Supreme
>Court. The Court granted review and heard argument in March of this year.
>I wanted to give that background because it?s very likely the role of BRC has
>been notably absent from reports you may have read in your local newspaper.
>The obvious point is this; without effective legal representation, either
>millions of acres of Utah would be forever closed to vehicle access, or
>agencies of the federal government would be held hostage to the whim any
>special interest that can convince a judge to go along with their demands.
>The national significance of BRC?s role in this case and the arguments can
>not be overerstated. The legal precedent SUWA sought in this case would apply
>to all federal agencies. If SUWA and their litigation partners had prevailed,
>the management activities of all federal agencies, not only the BLM, would be
>hostage to fringe groups of all manner and sort. It certainly would have
>paralyzed federal land management allowing anti-access groups to further
>force their agenda on land managers.
>Everyone at BRC is very proud of this victory. The point I wish to emphasize,
>however, is how much BRC appreciates and values your membership and financial
>support. Without your support, these federal judges would not hear any other
>perspective besides that of SUWA?s. Because of your involvement, these judges
>heard from the people who actually use the roads these anti access groups
>want to close. Because you enabled BRC and USA-ALL to become involved, we
>prevented a future where the fringe SUWA-type groups would drive the
>day-to-day activities of agencies of the federal government.
>In conclusion, allow me to express our sincere thanks to all who have
>faithfully and generously supported BlueRibbon.
>In sincere appreciation,
>Bill Dart,
>Executive Director, BlueRibbon Coalition
>Unanimous decision upholds ruling in Utah District Court made by BRC
>June 15, 2004
>Pocatello Idaho
>In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court upheld a Utah District Court
>ruling dismissing claims brought in 1999 by the Southern Utah Wilderness
>Alliance (SUWA) and other anti-access groups against the Bureau of Land
>Management (BLM). The suit targeted BLM's alleged inaction in managing off
>highway vehicle ("OHV") access. SUWA's demands to immediately close nine
>popular OHV recreation areas were rejected by the Utah District Court, but
>that decision was reversed by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. Both the
>BLM and the OHV groups petitioned for review with the Supreme Court. The
>Court granted review and heard argument in March of this year.
>"Needless to say, we're delighted", said Bill Dart, Executive Director of the
>BlueRibbon Coalition (BRC). BRC led a coalition of OHV enthusiast groups who
>successfully petitioned for defendant-intervenor status to aid BLM's defense
>of OHV management.
>"We are pleased the Justices rejected the 'management through litigation'
>model that is popular with anti-access groups," Dart added.
>The case before the Supreme Court turned on a fairly complex jurisdictional
>point. The Administrative Procedure Act allows lawsuits to compel
>nondiscretionary actions that have been unlawfully withheld or unreasonably
>delayed. The OHV groups convinced the District Court that SUWA?s claims went
>far beyond this standard and were really attempting to dictate the everyday
>activity of the BLM. Thus, the case focused on the degree to which private
>parties dissatisfied with government action can sue the agency under an
>alternate "failure to act" theory.
>Justice Antonin Scalia said SUWA's argument would insert the court into the
>day-to-day operations of the agency and "would divert BLM's energies from
>other projects throughout the country that are in fact more pressing. While
>such a decree might please the environmental plaintiffs in the present case,
>it would ultimately operate to the detriment of sound environmental
>"We have raised these arguments with limited success since the mid 1990's,
>and it is reassuring to see the Court has ultimately agreed with our
>analysis," noted Paul Turcke, the Boise, Idaho lawyer acting as lead counsel
>for the OHV groups. "This case was never about limiting legitimate review of
>formal agency decisions, but will clarify that disgruntled and well-funded
>special interest groups cannot interfere with the ongoing administrative
>process simply by claiming the agency is failing to act," Turcke concluded.
>According to BlueRibbon Coalition sources, there are numerous other cases at
>various levels of the federal court system that will be affected by this
>The BlueRibbon Coalition is a national recreation group that champions
>responsible use of public and private lands, and encourages individual
>environmental stewardship. It represents over 10,000 individual members and
>1,100 organization and business members, for a combined total of over 600,000
>recreationists nationwide. 1-800-258-3742. www.sharetrails.org
>***** END ALERT ***** END ALERT ***** END ALERT ***** END ALERT *****