Organization challenges Adventure Trails in state court

The Center for Biological Diversity and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility on Friday challenged the Adventure Trails System in state court.


Ileene Anderson said the organization is challenging the California Environmental Quality Act adequacy of the Environmenal Impact Report and has concerns about the 38 routes that were certified by the Inyo County Board of Supervisors.

Anderson noted that while only seven of those are being actively pursued in the pilot project now, the remaining 31 can be pursued at any time, and therefore because of the conflicts on some of the routes, “We were left with no option other than a legal challenge on the CEQA. We also believe that the ‘cowboy kiosks’ were illegally segmented from the ATS project under CEQA (i.e. they were not apart of the EIR), yet are a key part of the ATS project.”

Following is a press release and the court petition.

– Press release from the Center for Biological Diversity and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility

BISHOP, Calif.— In response to Inyo County’s adopting a new road system that for the first time allows off-road vehicles on its public roads, the Center for Biological Diversity and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility today challenged the so-called Adventure Trails System in state court. In January the county adopted a system that could open 242 miles along 38 county and city roads across western Inyo County to dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles, allowing them to drive with current street traffic and pedestrians.

The proposal would increase ORV traffic, noise and air pollution in the eastern Sierras, Owens Valley and beyond, as well as increase degradation of streams and wildlife habitat. Affected towns include Bishop, Lone Pine and Big Pine. While the county approved going forward with only seven of the roads at this time, the remaining 31 roads could be put into play in future.

“This so-called ‘Adventure Trails System’ project is a disaster in the making. It’s opening the floodgates to illegal ORV activities that hurt wildlife, foul the air, generate noise pollution and harm people’s safety,” said Ileene Anderson with the Center for Biological Diversity.

Inyo County supports many rare and imperiled species, including threatened and endangered plants, fish, birds, mammals and other wildlife, all of which could suffer from increased ORV activities. The program could increase and encourage illegal ORV use in some of the most sensitive public lands in the Owens Valley, eastern Sierras, and Death Valley National Park. Both the Forest Service and the National Park Service have had concerns about the lack of analysis of impacts on the public lands they manage.

The off-road industry itself warns against using ATVs on public roads, and the state of California only approved the project after indemnification; Inyo County will bear any liability, but dismissed this issue, citing a “liability insurance pool.”

“A small group of off-roaders has convinced Inyo County supervisors to force this project on unwilling residents, who not only bear the social and environmental impacts, but are also the ones who will foot the bill for inevitable injuries,” said Karen Schambach with Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.

In 2011 the California legislature adopted A.B. 628, which allowed Inyo County to establish a pilot project to designate combined-use roads up to 10 miles long on unincorporated county roads to link existing ORV trails on lands managed by the federal Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service. Inyo’s system gerrymanders the roads, which are linked to create roads in excess of 10 miles, include roads within the city boundaries of Bishop, and lead to Death Valley National Park, which does not allow ORVs.

New signs called “Cowboy Kiosks,” which direct ORV drivers onto now-quiet roads throughout the county, were constructed prior to the adoption of the system by the county and without environmental review, despite the fact that they are part of the project.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 825,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

CBD PEER v Inyo County-Pet for Writ of Mandate 2 18 2015 final w exhibit A

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13 Responses to Organization challenges Adventure Trails in state court

  1. wagonrd February 24, 2015 at 6:16 am #

    These same kinds of hard line arguments occur constantly in our House of Representatives and Senate. There is NO compromise solution there on national issues and there is no compromise solution here on the Adventure Trails. Now, dearly beloved, you begin to see why hate and contempt lead to war. Those emotions exist right here amoung the peaceful citizenry…

  2. Eastside Bum February 22, 2015 at 11:22 pm #

    How many are NOT surprised this group “Center for Biological Diversity” took action? They seem to do this with regularity.

    • Desert Tortoise February 24, 2015 at 7:03 am #

      Well the County Supes don’t want to listen to those who will suffer from this and who else is out there ready to pick up the cudgel and fight? Or would you prefer everyone just roll over and accept the received wisdom of the Supes? When the legislative process fails all that is left are the courts.

  3. John February 21, 2015 at 1:52 pm #

    I’m not sure that Inyo County can or should pay for the defense of this lawsuit. Basic services in the County are already starting to suffer due to the budget. Otherwise, the adventure trails supporters should pony up the funds to defend the legal challenges.

    • Wayne February 22, 2015 at 1:32 pm #

      True. Assembly Bill 628 requires the County (ie: all of us taxpayers) to “Indemnity and Defend the State”. That requirement, using the exact wording from AB 628, must be passed on to the project proponents.

      Otherwise any financial gains to the County will be eaten by these types of costs as well as by associated erosion of property values along these combined use routes and the likely easement and takings litigations. The BoS promised that the County would research and report on effects to property values before the Jan 22 meeting.

      Remember all 36 routes are still viable, even though still not adequately analyzed, at the end of the so called “reduced pilot project”.

  4. Lynne February 21, 2015 at 8:33 am #

    A less-than 30-second internet search will give you information on the groups cited in the article. I think it is a little naive to think that individuals and groups – on both sides of this issue – are not or should not be watching what is going on closely, and advocating for their positions. What happens here could affect legislation on the state (or because of involvement of BLM and Forest Service lands, even the national) level – We do not live in a bubble here in the Owens Valley.

  5. Ken Warner February 20, 2015 at 6:40 pm #

    What about a pilot program to encourage people to ride horses and mules? That would be more in keeping with the environment.

    • Desert Tortoise February 24, 2015 at 7:06 am #

      I dunno. Before the advent of automobiles, sweeping up and disposing mountains of horse manure was a major problem for cities. The odor and flies were also problems citizens complained bitterly about. I’ll take modern cars and motorcycles over horses any day.

  6. Cindy Schlick February 20, 2015 at 5:29 pm #

    Who are these people? Do they even live in California?
    Does anyone know?

    • BishopBeans February 22, 2015 at 9:33 am #

      They are us. We do live here and we do not want to see the air, land and water our communities impacted by out-of-the-area people that do not care for our valley as deeply as we do.

  7. Trouble February 20, 2015 at 5:06 pm #

    Steve- your a little late to this meeting! The sup’s voted 5 to 0 against ya! The only things these people have hurt is your feelings!

  8. Steve February 20, 2015 at 3:00 pm #

    “This so-called ‘Adventure Trails System’ project is a disaster in the making. It’s opening the floodgates to illegal ORV activities that hurt wildlife, foul the air, generate noise pollution and harm people’s safety,” said Ileene Anderson with the Center for Biological Diversity.

    Hay wait a minute this is a PILOT project. So we all can see what will happen. How is it that Ileene can possibly know what will happen?

    One thing I see is she is spouting buss words to get people to support her.

    • Steve February 25, 2015 at 7:42 am #

      Please let me explain, this is a trial if it ends up being as bad as the opponents say it will it never will be fully implemented.

      So I say give it the chance to fail or not. But please don’t kill it out of fear.

      As for me I will continue to explore the back country and take full advantage of what Inyo Co. has, lots of open dirt roads and things to see. Hope I see you all out there.


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