Ruling May End Mojave Offroading

Judge rejects federal plan for SoCal desert routes

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The practice of packing up the buggies and heading to the Mojave Desert for an offroading vacation may be in jeopardy.

A federal judge has sided with environmentalists who challenged a U.S. Bureau of Land Management plan allowing some 5,000 miles of off-road vehicle routes in Southern California's Mojave Desert.

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston ruled Monday that the West Mojave plan approved by the bureau in 2006 did not follow rules intended to minimize effects on waterways, soils, plants, animals and nearby private property.

The ruling came in response to a legal challenge brought by Center for Biological Diversity and other conservation groups.

The court order did not take issue with any particular routes and does not call for any route closures, according to Sky C. Stanfield, a San Francisco attorney who represented Alliance for Responsible Recreation, The Wilderness Society and five other groups.

Bureau officials defended their plan in a statement after Illston's ruling as "one of the most collaborative and extensive planning efforts ever undertaken in California."

Illston set an Oct. 30 conference to discuss further steps for accommodating off-roaders.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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