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Judge: More Review Needed On Forest Plan

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Sonora, CA — Environmental groups are declaring victory in a lawsuit aimed at the Stanislaus National Forest’s Motorized Travel Management Plan.

The plan was approved in 2009, and designated roads and trails that can be used by ATV’s and other off-road vehicles. It added 137 miles of trails that were previously off-limit. Those roads were the focus of the lawsuit, and Judge Kimberly Mueller ruled that the changes implemented in the plan should have had more review. The case was heard in U.S. District Court in Sacramento.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Twain Harte based Central Sierra Environmental Resource Council (CSERC), as well as the Wilderness Society, and the Public Employees for Environmental Protection.

CSERC reports that a hearing will be held in Mid-February for the court to hear what the attorneys are asking for to resolve the case, and what the Forest Service is willing to do. There will not be any changes to the current plan in the period leading up to that meeting. A spokesperson for the Stanislaus National Forest was not available for comment early this morning.

The Motorized Travel Management Plan has been controversial in Tuolumne County since its initial inception. Environmental groups thought the plan went too far, while many others advocated for additional use of the public lands, more than just the 137 additional miles.

Click here to find a story from 2009 about its initial release.

In January of 2010, the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors sent a letter of appeal to the Forest Service, asking that it allow better access to things like campsites. They also took issue with some of the parking changes. The vote was 3-2. The Supervisors in favor of the appeal were Teri Murrison, John Gray and Dick Pland, while the two that voted against sending the letter were Liz Bass and Paolo Maffei.

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