Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, March 16, 2018

Contact: Ileene Anderson, (323) 490-0223, 

Feds Propose Increasing Destructive Off-road Vehicle Access in Mojave Desert

Plan Disregards Court Order to Protect Desert Tortoise

MORENO VALLEY, Calif.— The U.S. Bureau of Land Management today proposed increasing off-road vehicle access in the western Mojave Desert, despite a court order that required the agency to reanalyze ORV routes to ensure this fragile ecosystem is protected.

“This plan is a death sentence for threatened desert tortoises and their fragile habitat,” said Ileene Anderson, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Uncontrolled ORV use kills animals and tears up the delicate desert ecosystem with tire tracks that last for decades. The BLM should be reducing ORV routes, not increasing them.”

Previous court rulings have found that the BLM failed to adequately justify the existing off-road vehicle route system and sent the agency back to the drawing board twice. Today’s BLM proposal tries to legitimize illegal user-created routes and adopt them into the system.

“There are at least 11,000 miles of illegally created roads in addition to the 5,000 miles of authorized ones. This clearly shows the BLM can’t manage what it has,” Anderson said. “The Trump administration is starving the agency of the resources it needs to do its job. Officials need to go back to the drawing board and create a system that protects the desert’s plants and animals while allowing reasonable access.”

The BLM’s West Mojave Plan covers 3.1 million acres of public lands in the western portion of the Mojave Desert in southern California, including parts of San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Riverside, Kern and Inyo counties.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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