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ACTION TIMELINE

November 9, 2000 – A coalition of environmental groups led by the Center reached a settlement with federal authorities limiting off-road vehicle use on the Algodones Dunes. The settlement resolved the first issue in a Center-led lawsuit covering 10.5 million acres of desert lands and 24 endangered species on the California Desert Conservation Area.

January 23, 2003 – The Bureau of Land Management was denied more than $1 million in state funding due to improper management of off-road vehicle use on the Algodones Dunes. The Center applauded the move as a step toward protecting public lands from the special interests of the off-road vehicle lobby

June 25, 2003 – In a crucial legal victory for the Center and other conservation groups, a federal judge threw out a lawsuit brought by the off-road industry that sought to strike down protections for endangered species — including the Peirson’s milk vetch and desert tortoise — on the Algodones Dunes.

July 7, 2003 – The Center and 11 other conservation groups filed suit over a federal plan to open more than 49,000 acres of endangered species habitat on the Algodones Dunes to intensive off-road vehicle use.

August 5, 2003 – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed that 52,780 acres of the Algodones Dunes be designated as critical habitat for the Pierson’s milk vetch. The primary threat to the milk vetch is off-road vehicle use.

July 19, 2004 – In a move to protect wildlife specifically threatened by off-road vehicles, the Center, along with Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and the Sierra Club, filed a petition with the Fish and Wildlife Service to list 16 Algodones Dunes species as threatened or endangered.

August 3, 2004 – Federal officials proposed only 21,000 acres of critical habitat for the Pierson’s milk vetch — cutting nearly 60 percent of the area originally proposed — in favor of expanding off-roading areas on the Algodones Dunes.

March 14, 2006 – A federal ruling sided with the Center in a lawsuit to uphold existing protections of the Algodones Dunes. The court denied proposed expansions.

July 27, 2007 – The Service issued a new critical habitat proposal for the federally and state-protected milk vetch. The new proposal identified only 16,108 acres of land in the Algodones Dunes as habitat necessary for the survival and recovery of the rare plant — a 25-percent reduction of currently protected critical habitat.

September 7, 2012 – The BLM released a disastrous new recreational plan for California’s Algodones Dunes that would eliminate protections on more than 40,000 acres of crucial habitat for rare and vanishing species — including more than 6,000 acres of rare desert woodlands — by allowing off-road vehicles unlimited access to areas previously off-limits.

May 20, 2013 – The Center and allies sent an open letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell asking for review of the ill-conceived pending BLM decision for the Algodones Dunes (Sept. 7, 2012). Our request built on the fact that current protections were enacted in the Clinton administration to balance off-road and conservation interests and had survived multiple Bush-era attempts to roll them back — yet inexplicably the Obama BLM now intended to quash them in order to favor motorized recreation.

Algodones dunes photo © Andrew Harvey