Illston rules - doesn't look good

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Illston rules - doesn't look good

Post by Vincent J Brunasso » Tue Mar 14, 2006 12:44 pm

http://www.glamisonline.org/downloads/C ... oOPdoc.pdf

Cursory review: we did not do well.
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Post by dunernr » Tue Mar 14, 2006 1:53 pm

so what went wrong??? what did we learn??? whats the next step???

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Post by Jerry Seaver » Tue Mar 14, 2006 1:58 pm

The judge ruled against the Biological Opinion, the Critical Habitat, and the EIS. The first question I was asking, what now? I'm sure the BLM is asking that too. For instance, what happens now with the RAMP. We'll have to wait and see, it does no good to start guessing on how this affects anything for now. There is so many things that could or maynot change because of this ruling. One thing for sure is the temporary closures won't be changing anytime soon and the people that filed the lawsuit challeneging the B.O. will be looking to use this decision to further their cause.

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Post by BHenry » Tue Mar 14, 2006 2:12 pm

My head hurts.

So, in terms of the three original lawsuits that were rolled into this one, Ilston ruled both for and against both parties on each of them? I don't understand the correlation as of yet.

Just goes to show how deeply flawed the ESA is, and how important it is to get the plant delisted.
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Post by LoBuck » Tue Mar 14, 2006 2:26 pm

BHenry wrote:My head hurts.
My stomache too.

67 pages.. no wonder it took so long.

I got to page 14. Had to stop, I was getting ill. :evil:
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Post by crash » Tue Mar 14, 2006 2:28 pm

I too just took a quick read as I read alot of these types of things at work and can only take so much in one sitting, but THIS TREE HUGGER JUDGE HAS COMPLETELY DISREGARDED THE FACTS THAT PROVE THE BASIS OF THIS SETTLEMENT FOR A "TEMPORARY CLOSURE" WERE AND ARE STILL FALSE!!!

I would say that this is unbelievable, but in my short time here on earth I have witnessed so many spineless, gutless, greedy actions that I have to believe that this nations founding fathers are turning in thier graves. Where is the power of the people when a few can rule the majority? Even when the facts support the majority!!!

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Post by Sloppyduner » Tue Mar 14, 2006 2:42 pm

You beat me Glenn I only got 8 pages into it. I'm going to have my daughter print it up so I can take a longer look at it. Maybe even carry it with me like a bible until I figure it out, inside and out (if that's possible) H*LL I got nothing else to do.

But I stopped when I came to this thought...We learn by our mistakes. At least there is a lot to work with here. Sure it isn't clear to us right now, but if we take each sentence and TRY to learn from it, so we can USE the language in the judgement to form a strategy to go back and fight some more, MAYBE we can keep our dunes open.

:?: May I suggest a seperate forum to brake this down in :?:

There's going to be A LOT of different ideas, questions and posts about this. I read only 8 pages and I have about 3 dozen questions.

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Post by jhitesma » Tue Mar 14, 2006 4:00 pm

Haven't had a chance to read it yet.

But....the 9th circuit IS one of if not the most overturned court out there.

But that next step sure ain't cheap....or easy.

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Post by Voice » Tue Mar 14, 2006 4:35 pm

Does this make the RAMP null and void?
Will there be a new RAMP?

Do we start the process all over again? Another 5 years of closure while we prepare another inadaquately prepared court battle?

Is appeal an option? How long will that take?

How many more people have to die in crowded dunes before we get our dunes back?
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Post by L&L Corvairs » Tue Mar 14, 2006 4:48 pm

Voice wrote:Does this make the RAMP null and void?
Will there be a new RAMP?

Do we start the process all over again? Another 5 years of closure while we prepare another inadaquately prepared court battle?

Is appeal an option? How long will that take?

How many more people have to die in crowded dunes before we get our dunes back?
All great questions, to which we don't have the answers yet. But we are working on it.
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Post by jhitesma » Tue Mar 14, 2006 4:52 pm

We'll probably need two threads real quick. One for discussion about the ruling and one for discussion about the effects of the ruling.

I'm just starting to skim the decision and already things are just mind boggling:
it would
permit significant declines in the population of the already-threatened Peirson’s milk-vetch before
instituting any mitigating measures. The Court concludes that allowing such a significant reduction of
reproduction, numbers or distribution of the milk-vetch runs afoul of the requirement under the
Endangered Species Act to “insure” that the RAMP is “not likely to jeopardize the continued existence
of any . . . threatened species.” 16 U.S.C. § 1536(a)(2).
So now apparently the only way the BLM can be in compliance with the ESA is to start watering the dunes according to this judge? You may as well declare midges endangered since you didn't find any when you counted in december. Then go back and require that they be found year round before you can use your property again.

Even if no one was out there they'd die off like that! To spread the milkvetch further would be to play God on a level that's just laughable!
Relatedly, the Court concludes that the
Biological Opinion is flawed because it fails to explain how continued and expanded habitat degradation
of almost half of the designated critical habitat for the Peirson’s milk-vetch does not result in “adverse
modification” to milk-vetch critical habitat.
Where was the proof of habitat degradation? All the land that's suitable habitat is covered in them when they grow! There's no proof that the habitat is degraded. The request of the court here is to prove there's no affect on something that doesn't even exist.

She does it again a little later:
The Court
concludes that by finding that there were no additional regulatory benefits to be gained by designating
critical habitat in areas that were ultimately excluded, the Service improperly ignored the recovery goal
of critical habitat.
ignored the recovery goal You can't recover something that's already thriving!

I Know those two go back to the listing status of the PMV. But when even that is in serious question ruling based on it seems shaky at best in my mind. The judge is ruling based on base assumptions about the species in question due to it being listed - rather than on the facts of the scecies status. The delisting has always been important but now it seems more important than ever. Does the judge ever even acknowledge the science behind the ruling? I've got more reading to do.

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Post by jhitesma » Tue Mar 14, 2006 4:55 pm

Here's another doosey:
and failed to evaluate the economic benefits associated with reduced visitation.
How do you fail to evaluate a negative?

The evaluation of a negative is always going to be NULL maybe the judge missed there in the whitespace! I guess it's no longer legal to be logical :roll:

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Post by Ta2dGrrl » Tue Mar 14, 2006 4:57 pm

:cry: :cry: Unbelievable.
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Post by Washroad » Tue Mar 14, 2006 5:21 pm

Well, it ain't over 'til it's over. :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil:

Somehow I knew the judge would shaft us regardless of what was put before her. :evil:
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Post by Sloppyduner » Tue Mar 14, 2006 6:36 pm

jhitesma wrote:We'll probably need two threads real quick. One for discussion about the ruling and one for discussion about the effects of the ruling.

I say a whole new FORUM
"Discussion", "effects", "deciphering", "This lady is just nuts", "What the BLM is doing", "What Should the BLM have done?" "Fund rasing for an appeal." How is the appeal coming? "WHEN will the Appeal be heard?" "WHERE will it be heard?" "OH CR@P check out what I missed on page..."

I, personally, could see a whole new forum.

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Post by Voice » Tue Mar 14, 2006 7:20 pm

Forum created... use it in any way you see fit...
Illiston Ruling Forum at Glamis Dunes.com
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Post by Sloppyduner » Tue Mar 14, 2006 7:44 pm

Voice wrote:Forum created... use it in any way you see fit...
Illiston Ruling Forum at Glamis Dunes.com
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I felt icky posting over there.

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Post by quad1100 » Tue Mar 14, 2006 11:35 pm

What a mess!!! 67 pages sure didn't save any trees!

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Post by Ron » Wed Mar 15, 2006 2:23 am

Found this on illstons calander:
What is: Form of relief due ?

Tuesday 03/28/2006
Unavailable
-----------
09:00 AM MHP GENERAL DUTY
-----------
03:30 PM NO APPEARANCE MATTER:
C-03-2509.e CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY v. BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
Briefs Re: Form of Relief Due
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Post by SANDUNERS » Wed Mar 15, 2006 3:35 am

:( but expected ...

What it means to me is a NEW RAMP written after the PMV is delisted WITHOUT an AMA area... 8)
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Post by mawieche » Wed Mar 15, 2006 7:46 am

I am disappointed but not suprised. This judge is bringing her personal agenda into this. But the battle will go on I am sure. Do not quit fighting.
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Post by Washroad » Wed Mar 15, 2006 9:16 am

mawieche wrote:I am disappointed but not suprised. This judge is bringing her personal agenda into this. But the battle will go on I am sure. Do not quit fighting.
I won't give up 'til I die. I'm even putting something in my living trust so I can continue when I'm dead!!!!

I can hate forever!
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Post by Sloppyduner » Wed Mar 15, 2006 11:01 am

It came to me this morning... MAYBE it is not for ME to read and UNDERSTAND EVERY WORD of the decision. That’s what the lawyers are for. If I DID understand each and every word backwords and forwards what difference would that make? I’m by far not as trained, or educated in these matters to actually come up with anything above and beyond what the lawyers and the people already working on this can do. WHAT I CAN DO is help when and where I can to help keep the fight going. And keep being a responsible member of the duning community.


Is the above a cop out or the actual truth? :?

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Post by BHenry » Wed Mar 15, 2006 11:14 am

My big question (I got lost reading all of the legalese) is did we make any progress?
For the foregoing reasons and for good cause shown, the Court hereby GRANTS in part and
DENIES in part plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment (Docket No. 157) and GRANTS in part and
DENIES in part defendants’ motion for summary judgment (Docket No. 160).
Which part of our motion were we granted? What benefit (if any) comes from this partial grant of our (or BLM's) motion? I'm just trying to wrap my mind around the ramifications of this ruling.
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Post by BHenry » Wed Mar 15, 2006 11:42 am

I caught the LA Times article that was posted on Glamis Dunes.com, and thanks to Vince for the wonderful rebuttal to Dannyboy's abuse of the 50% party line. I also had a real issue with the use of the word "expansion" in relation to what the RAMP actually did, so I wrote a letter to her:
Ms Wilson,



I read your article "Actions Renew Tensions Over Use of Desert Land
Release of the west Mojave plan and a judge's rejection of a proposal for the Algodones Dunes reignite debate" and found a glaring factual error. In the article, you state the following "On Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston threw out another bureau plan and a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biological report for the Algodones Dunes to the south that would have greatly expanded off-roading..." when in fact there will be no expansion of OHV access. The management plan, as written, would have RESTORED most vehicle access to the dunes, and restricted access to the deep core of the dune area by using a permit based system. Please retract your error, as it is very misleading to the average reader who is unfamiliar with the issues at the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area.
I doubt it will be published, but I plan on giving up the fight when my toes have curled up and my bones have joined the sands!
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Post by f-BOB » Wed Mar 15, 2006 11:57 am

Unbelievable. Not surprising, but unbelievable. Everyone must do what they feel is right under these circumstances, and go with their heart. I'm sure I'm not going to make any friends here, and may lose the few that I have, but here's my stance:
It's time for civil disobedience. I will no longer turn and ride out of a closed area that I accidentally ran into because the stakes were missing, covered, not maintained, etc. I will not intentionally venture into a closed area, but if i find myself in one, I'll be damned if I'm going to worry about getting out of it the same way i came in. I will not intentionally harm the milkvetch plant, just as I do not intentionally harm any plant or animal in the dunes.
I am prepared to deal with the punishment for committing this most heinous and vile of crimes, trespassing on MY OWN PROPERTY (public property, that is), of course, that's if I am caught in the first place. I do not suggest that anyone follow me, lest you be subject to the same fate. No, I will do this alone, making my stand. One man against the system.

I am willing to be the martyr, since all we've done is everything they've asked and still got nothing from it. This is not a slam on all the hard work that the ASA and other organizations have put into this effort. Quite the opposite. However, I've tried to be a good dune citizen, and this is the reward. The man has said shut up and like it, or we'll take even more from you. I'm tired of that approach over and over and over.

I will continue to support the ASA in all their efforts both financially and personally. I will continue to obey the rest of rules of the ISDRA. I will continue to dune responsibly hopefully for many years to come. But I will not let parties who are only interested in fulfilling their own agendas (CBD and other ECO jerks) dictate what I do and where I do it. Wish me luck.
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Post by Voice » Wed Mar 15, 2006 12:06 pm

You sir, are not alone... as a matter of fact I would say that the group of people who feel this way is growing.
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Post by shevy11 » Wed Mar 15, 2006 12:50 pm

Here is a press release from the Center for Biological Diversity. Surprisingly, it has a good analysis of the ruling.

http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/swcb ... 14-06.html

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Post by HozayKwarvo » Wed Mar 15, 2006 1:42 pm

Voice wrote:You sir, are not alone... as a matter of fact I would say that the group of people who feel this way is growing.
exponentially...
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Post by Poiks » Wed Mar 15, 2006 3:46 pm

I get the feeling that it's just a matter of time until Glamis is gone (and not because of the idea of civil disobedience). This is just the latest in the bite-by-bite approach to eating the elephant. It won't be long until the next bite is taken.

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Post by BHenry » Wed Mar 15, 2006 8:03 pm

shevy11 wrote:Here is a press release from the Center for Biological Diversity. Surprisingly, it has a good analysis of the ruling.

http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/swcb ... 14-06.html
The smugness of the watermelons makes me ill, but once I got past all of the self-congratulatory quotes, the synopsis of the ruling was indeed helpful (if a little biased).
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Post by d_sheffs » Wed Mar 15, 2006 10:18 pm

i do not speak in lawyer terms and have no idea what all the legal jargon meant to us. but i do have a relative who is a lawyer and she took a brief look. there may be a glimer of hope.
I've only had a chance to look at it briefly -- and I will read it in more detail -- but, what I can tell you at this point is this: it is a summary judgment ruling. What that means is one side (or, as it looks in this case, sometimes both sides) asked the judge to rule in their favor on a legal issue. On a summary judgment motion, the judge does not make factual inquiries. The judge only engages in legal analysis. For example, if somebody sued you for breach of contract, you might file a motion for summary judgment in which you asked the judge to dismiss the case because it was not filed within the statute of limitations period. This has nothing to do with the fact that (and the judge will not examine whether) there was, in fact, a breach of any contract. So, the bottom line is it's procedural. The reason a defendant files a summary judgment motion is to try and get out of the case on a legal (not factual) basis. The reason a plaintiff files a summary judgment is to ask the judge to rule that he or she is entitled to relief on some legal (not factual) basis. Because this summary judgment was based only on part of the complaint, it would most likely not dispose of the case. The bottom line here is that this is not the end of the line. It looks like the judge ruled partially in each parties' favor, and is trying to determine what relief is appropriate under the circumstances. Once I get a chance to read it in more depth, I'll give you a better idea of what it might mean, but it looks like no final determination has yet been made. If you get anything else on it, let me know.
so the bottom line is.....it is far from over. if we have the $$$$$$ that is.

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Post by norocksplease » Wed Mar 15, 2006 11:01 pm

$$$$, our problem....


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Post by LoBuck » Thu Mar 16, 2006 1:06 am

I'm no where near to being a lawyer, but I read somewhat the same thing that d_seffs relative did.

The more you read this ruling, the more you can see that Judge Illston was looking purely at her interpetation of the law and how each parties case (and documentation) was presented. She wasn't looking at science or facts.

I believe that the ASA and the CBD knew this going in. I'm not so sure that the BLM, and by way of the Biological Opinion, the FWS, knew this.

When the BO was 1st released, everyone had concerns about the way it was written. In places, the FWS seem to contradict what they themselves were saying.

The concern for the FWS's BO, and the steps the BLM was taking or going to take to implement some parts of the new RAMP this season (ahead of the ruling) were expressed time and again by the ISDRA TRT.

Two recent examples of this can be heard in the Audio Recordings from the 1/24/06 TRT meeting.

The Raven/Coyote proof dumpsters have been a concern since they're use was proposed. Listen to Track02 to hear about a proposed Interpretive Program that would have placed the Desert Tortiose at the forefront as the reason for the covered dumpsters.

The $1M Monitoring Program that the BLM conducted last year was very intensive and covered large sections of the ISDRA. Listen to Track12 to hear about the next Monitoring Program planned by the BLM, as advised by the FWS, which would be so much smaller in scale that the TRT was concerned if it would hold up to legal scrutiny. Budget for the next Monitoring Program? $200,000.

These are just some of the things that the BLM will need to look at to decide what in the new, and not fully offical, RAMP can or should be implemented. Certainly the AMA will not be.
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Post by f-BOB » Thu Mar 16, 2006 9:54 am

After reading a little further, I will retain my stance as originally posted, not as a because of the ruling, but more as a result of the overall process. I msitakenly thought the judge's ruling would resolve ANYTHING. It has not. All it has done is prolong the process that much more. Next chapter please. While it may not be over, it's no closer to being over than it was two days ago.

Thanks to those who've taken the time to read the ruling and break it down for those of us who haven't read it yet.
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Post by Voice » Thu Mar 16, 2006 2:53 pm

Has the ASA done a Press release yet?

Seems a shame to give all this attention to the CBD only because they are capable of putting together a propoganda piece quickly.
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Post by jhitesma » Thu Mar 16, 2006 3:12 pm

Voice wrote:Has the ASA done a Press release yet?

Seems a shame to give all this attention to the CBD only because they are capable of putting together a propoganda piece quickly.
It's easy to shove a propaganda piece out when you don't care about things like legal opinions and facts. And the CBD pieces was sorely lacking in either. The usual ploy of "repeat the lies until people accept them" is still their forte.

Of course the newspapers don't care - they'll run anything that sounds sensationalistic enough.

I still think "press secretary" is a position that the ASA needs to take more seriously. I've heard a lot of reporters complain that it's too hard to get an official response from the ASA in the timeframe they often have for writing a story. (And yes I ment story not article since articles are supposed to have some semblance of facts in them.)

So I'm torn.

I'd like to see the ASA get our side of the response out more efficiantly.

But I don't want to see it happen at the expense of facts and having all the necessary knowledge to make a knowledgeable response. I still believe it's possible to win without stooping to their level. We DO have science and facts on our side we just need to do a better job of getting them out to the public.

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Post by Vincent J Brunasso » Thu Mar 16, 2006 3:37 pm

I've heard a lot of reporters complain that it's too hard to get an official response from the ASA in the timeframe they often have for writing a story.
Provide me with the names and contact information of these "lot of reporters" and I will take care of the rest.

Geez, Grant and I were quoted in 3 newspapers, one was the Left Angeles Times. Am I the only one here that saw the articles?
Actions Renew Tensions Over Use of Desert Land
Release of the west Mojave plan and a judge's rejection of a proposal for the Algodones Dunes reignite debate.
By Janet Wilson, Times Staff Writer
March 15, 2006


A pair of decisions in the last two days governing recreation, conservation and development across several million acres of California desert are reigniting tensions over endangered species and motorized access in the fast-growing region.

Late Tuesday, U.S. Bureau of Land Management officials signed the west Mojave management plan, designed to streamline construction and map areas for motorized recreation and wildlife protection on 9.3 million acres of public land in five counties and 11 cities. Parts of Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside, Kern and Inyo counties are included in the plan, which took 12 years to craft.

"You have tremendous, growing populations in … the west Mojave, and then you try to balance that with conservation of species, and it becomes a very, very delicate balancing act, and that's what we think this plan achieved," said Jan Bedrosian, spokeswoman for the bureau's California office. The plan identifies vital areas for the threatened desert tortoise, Mohave squirrel and 98 other species, pinpoints off-road trails, and lays out areas that could be developed.

But the plan was promptly lambasted by environmentalists and off-road vehicle groups, who said that thousands of miles of riding trails had been improperly mapped, that there were no funds for enforcement or implementation, and that lawsuits were inevitable.

"They don't have a nickel — not a nickel — to implement any of it," said Roy Denner, president of the Off-Road Business Assn., who was appointed by Interior Secretary Gale Norton to serve on the BLM's Desert District Advisory Council and who has monitored the plan closely.

"It wasn't done well," he said. "What they were trying to do — and it's pretty naive — is they were trying to provide for every kind of environmental concern they could with the idea that it would prevent lawsuits, and it's just the other way around. They're going to get sued by the environmental extremists … and off-road access is going to be cut off. It's a joke."

Tom Egan, a former bureau biologist who worked on the early stages of the plan before leaving the agency, called the final version "egregious," and said it would lead to the disappearance of the tortoise in many areas and leave other species "on hospital beds." He noted that the plan included measures for placing signs indicating trails were open to off-roading, but none to say which areas were closed.

A spokesman for the Center for Biological Diversity — an environmental group that has long opposed the expansion of off-road driving in the desert — said that the plan would harm the desert tortoise in particular, and that the organization probably would sue to stop it.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston threw out another bureau plan and a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biological report for the Algodones Dunes to the south that would have greatly expanded off-roading, saying that the plan would harm the federally protected Pierson's milk vetch wildflower and the desert tortoise, and that the agencies had wrongly interpreted the Endangered Species Act.

The judge "basically shredded their plan," said Daniel Patterson, an ecologist with the Center for Biological Diversity. Noting that about half of the most popular parts of the dunes remain open to riders, he said: "It's time for them to compromise and recognize that 50% is enough."

Bedrosian said bureau officials had not seen the decision and could not comment immediately. She said officials thought they had adequately protected species by calling for tightly controlled riding on designated routes with heavy monitoring.

Vince Brunasso of the American Sand Assn., which intervened on the side of the government to have 49,000 acres of the popular dunes reopened to riding, said: "I agree. Let's compromise. Let's have 50% of the dunes in North America reopened then, because if you do the math and add up all the acres we have access to, it falls far short of 50%."

Brunasso said the Algodones Dunes "are different, and they're beautiful, and we can't go to the deep center section. The American people are being robbed of the ability to enjoy that beauty … we're not done fighting."

He said his group would try to have the Pierson's milk vetch delisted as an endangered species.

"The BLM counted 1.8 million milk vetch last year. I don't know how many you have to have before an official person would say its not endangered or threatened" and off-highway vehicle use can coexist with it, he said.

Patterson and others have said the wildflower is doing better for now because of good rains last year and because off-roading has been banned in key areas.
Closed dunes to stay closed

BY JAMES GILBERT, SUN STAFF WRITER
Mar 14, 2006, 8:38 pm



In what environmentalists are calling a huge victory for public lands, a federal judge's ruling on Tuesday will keep a temporarily closed 49,000 acre portion of the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area closed to off-road vehicles.

"This is a huge win for wildlife and people who care about the dunes," said Daniel Patterson, a desert ecologist for the Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity. "The court wisely told the Bureau of Land Management to wake up, follow the law and treat the dunes with some respect."

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston, of San Francisco, in her 67-page decision, ruled that a proposed recreational management plan the Bureau of Land Management was trying to put into place at the dunes failed to comply with the Endangered Species Act and the Federal Lands Policy and Management Act, both of which are key national environmental laws.

"Basically their one-sided plan to abandon all conservation at the dunes has been shot down," Patterson added. "The dunes are a world-class attraction and this ensures it's going to be available to everybody, not just the duners."

In 2000, BLM imposed the closure of the 49,000 acres as part of an court-approved multiple-use management agreement to settle a lawsuit against the agency by environmentalists who claimed it wasn't doing enough to protect the Peirson's milk vetch plant and the desert tortoise from off-road vehicle use.

The multiple-use management plan was designed to keep off-road vehicles in other areas of the dunes while the 49,000 acres was set aside for wildlife and recreational use.

However, the closures were deemed "temporary" until the bureau finalized a Recreation Area Management Plan or (RAMP) for the dunes.

Had the RAMP not been invalidated by the federal judge's ruling, BLM not only would have implemented it at the dunes, it would also have reopened the 49,000 acres and replaced the current management plan that has been in place the past six years.

Spokeswoman Jane Hendron, of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife's Carlsbad Office, said her agency could not comment on the ruling, not only because it had just received a copy, but because it is still considered active litigation.

"We haven't even had a chance to read through it yet," Hendron said.

Vincent Brunasso, one of the three co-founders of the American Sand Association and the organization's legal committee chairman, called Tuesday's ruling "a travesty."

"It's never enough with conservationists," Brunasso said a few hours after the ruling was handed down.
"They say they want balanced use but they aren't going to stop until they get the entire dunes closed."

Brunasso continued: "All this over a plant that doesn't need federal protection."

Hendron said her agency, will now turn the ruling over to its legal department for review. Brunasso said ASA will also go over the document before deciding what the organization will do next.

The court, in its 67-page ruling, also found that BLM could not rely on the 2005 biological opinion permit issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife, concluding it would cause significant declines in the already threatened milk vetch plant's numbers before ever instituting any mitigating measures.

The judge also concluded that the biological opinion failed to address threats to the milk vetch and ignored the issue of how to recover any lost critical habitat.

The biological opinion also didn't take into account the Endangered Species Act because the Incidental Take Statement — a part of the biological opinion — failed to include ways to minimize the impact of off-road vehicle use on the desert tortoises.

The judge also ruled that among other matters, Fish and Wildlife's Environmental Impact Statement was legally inadequate.
Dunes stay off-limits to off-roaders
RULING: A U.S. judge said the Bureau of Land Management violated the Endangered Species Act.

11:56 PM PST on Tuesday, March 14, 2006
By JENNIFER BOWLES / The Press-Enterprise


A federal judge Tuesday struck down a plan by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to allow off-roading once more on large sections of desert sand dunes closed six years ago to protect a plant threatened with extinction.

U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston, in her long-awaited ruling, sides with the Sierra Club and other environmental groups in saying the bureau violated the Endangered Species Act and other federal laws in proposing to open four areas of the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area to dune buggies and other all-terrain vehicles.

"This decision is about as strong as it gets and confirms all of our concerns about the dunes environment," said Daniel Patterson, a desert ecologist with the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the plaintiffs.

For now, those areas -- nearly 50,000 acres in all or about one-third of the dunes in southeastern California, also known as Glamis -- will remain closed while the bureau reviews the ruling, said Doran Sanchez, an agency spokesman.

The ruling is a significant blow to Inland off-roaders who spend weekends at the dunes camping out in motor homes and cresting the wind-sculpted dunes that reach 300 feet high.

"It's very disappointing," said Grant George, who owns a dune-buggy shop in Rialto. "This is a place to get away from the daily grind and spend time with your friends and families."

George said he fears if the closures remain, more could be on the way. Fabian Pereyra, 37, of Riverside, said the closed areas make for an awkward time at the dunes when he's riding his sand-rail vehicle.

"Mainly you're not able to ride through it and get to your designation, or just to enjoy it," Pereyra said.

George is also president of the American Sand Association, which has vigorously fought the closures and petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove federal protection for the Peirson's milk-vetch, a member of the pea family with pale purple flowers that was listed as a threatened species in 1998.

The agency is reviewing that petition, said Jane Hendron, a spokeswoman.

Illston also ruled that the bureau relied on a flawed opinion by the wildlife service that said the dunes could be reopened without "jeopardizing" the existence of the plant. The judge said the wildlife agency acknowledged that the bureau's plan would cause significant declines of the milk-vetch.

Hendron said she couldn't comment on active litigation.

Illston also said the bureau failed to take a "hard look" at the impacts of off-roading on the plant and other rare species that live at the dunes, a violation of a key federal environmental law.

The judge ordered all parties to file briefs by March 28 detailing what they think the next step should be. At that point, she said she will decide whether oral arguments are necessary.

The portions of the dunes in question were first closed in 2000 as a temporary measure and part of a sweeping agreement between environmental groups and the bureau that limited off-roading, mining and cattle grazing across the California desert to protect endangered species.

Illston noted that the temporary closure at the dunes "is a reasonable and viable alternative for managing the dunes for multiple use and species protection" and that the bureau should have evaluated that in its management plan.

Reach Jennifer Bowles at (951) 368-9548 or jbowles@PE.com
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Post by Vincent J Brunasso » Thu Mar 16, 2006 3:38 pm

Has the ASA done a Press release yet?
Dave and I should have something later today.
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Post by Voice » Thu Mar 16, 2006 4:20 pm

Ummm... to clairify... and appoloize ...
I didn't mean anything by that other than to suggest that the timelyness of such things can matter...

Call it a rude prod... but I did not mean it as the critisism that it sounded like...

:D
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Post by Vincent J Brunasso » Thu Mar 16, 2006 4:35 pm

Ummm... to clairify... and appoloize ...
I didn't mean anything by that other than to suggest that the timelyness of such things can matter...

Call it a rude prod... but I did not mean it as the critisism that it sounded like...
I didn't take it that way. Not at all. I am dying to get something out and explain why this is actually a step forward - its not the step we would rather have, but a step forward nonetheless. Yeah, you read that right - we are better off than before the ruling. But first, we need to make certain we've read and interpeted the document accurately.
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Post by Washroad » Thu Mar 16, 2006 5:22 pm

d_sheffs wrote:i do not speak in lawyer terms and have no idea what all the legal jargon meant to us. but i do have a relative who is a lawyer and she took a brief look. there may be a glimer of hope.
I've only had a chance to look at it briefly -- and I will read it in more detail -- but, what I can tell you at this point is this: it is a summary judgment ruling. What that means is one side (or, as it looks in this case, sometimes both sides) asked the judge to rule in their favor on a legal issue. On a summary judgment motion, the judge does not make factual inquiries. The judge only engages in legal analysis. For example, if somebody sued you for breach of contract, you might file a motion for summary judgment in which you asked the judge to dismiss the case because it was not filed within the statute of limitations period. This has nothing to do with the fact that (and the judge will not examine whether) there was, in fact, a breach of any contract. So, the bottom line is it's procedural. The reason a defendant files a summary judgment motion is to try and get out of the case on a legal (not factual) basis. The reason a plaintiff files a summary judgment is to ask the judge to rule that he or she is entitled to relief on some legal (not factual) basis. Because this summary judgment was based only on part of the complaint, it would most likely not dispose of the case. The bottom line here is that this is not the end of the line. It looks like the judge ruled partially in each parties' favor, and is trying to determine what relief is appropriate under the circumstances. Once I get a chance to read it in more depth, I'll give you a better idea of what it might mean, but it looks like no final determination has yet been made. If you get anything else on it, let me know.
so the bottom line is.....it is far from over. if we have the $$$$$$ that is.
We need to remember this. . . . .there has been no FINAL ruling.

It's not done.
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Post by jhitesma » Thu Mar 16, 2006 7:20 pm

Vincent J Brunasso wrote:
I've heard a lot of reporters complain that it's too hard to get an official response from the ASA in the timeframe they often have for writing a story.
Provide me with the names and contact information of these "lot of reporters" and I will take care of the rest.
[/quote]

I wish I could Vince. The problem is the Sun has such high turnover that from week to week they never know who will be covering this kind of issue...let alone who will be working there.

This time they did at least get a short quote from you even if 90% of their article was taken verbatim from the CBD press release. (Maybe if we had gotten a release on their desk within hours of the decision the article would have been more balanced...but like I said before facts take longer than rhetoric.)

But many times over the past several years I've criticized reporters at the Sun for not getting quotes from the ASA for their stories. And the story is always the same. They tried the numbers they had for two or three ASA BOD members but apparently never left messages if they got machines or never called back if they got busy signals. The big problem though is they're never sure who an official contact is that they should be dealing with. But without spending money on a PR firm or something similar there's not much the ASA can do to solve the problems at this point.

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Post by LoBuck » Thu Mar 16, 2006 10:53 pm

Sorry Jason, but I have a different feeling on this.

Having contact names and numbers for a story like this, especially in a market like Yuma, should not rest with the reporters. As you mentioned there is higher turnover factor here.

This goes for newspaper, radio, and TV. The responsibility to have current contact names and numbers should be on the City Desk, Traffic Coordinator, or Production Lead.

This was a HUGE story for Yuma and should have been being followed as such. That would include keeping their contact list up to date so they would have it when the story broke.
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Post by In Glamis » Fri Mar 17, 2006 12:15 am

Perhaps the motto of the Yuma Sun newspaper is.....

"If it's news, then it's news to us"

:( I agree with Lo Buck, a good news organization has all its contact names and numbers listed on a "hot sheet" - a contact sheet that should be regularly and consistently checked on and updated practically every day so that once a breaking news story comes onto the scene, the paper can immediately contact the appropriate parties to get their input and comments regarding the issue at hand. It shouldn't be the case where the paper just sits back on its butt and waits to recieve news releases come rolling off its fax machine so that it can then build its story.

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Post by Vincent J Brunasso » Fri Mar 17, 2006 12:22 am

This time they did at least get a short quote from you even if 90% of their article was taken verbatim from the CBD press release. (Maybe if we had gotten a release on their desk within hours of the decision the article would have been more balanced...but like I said before facts take longer than rhetoric.)
Keep in mind that CBD is not unpaid volunteers...
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Post by glamispilot » Fri Mar 17, 2006 1:02 am

I am makeing a vow to all the duners . i will not stand by and do nothing.
my goal for the off season is to get the ASA as much money from corporate sponsors to figtht and win this battle.just look at what has been acomplished with the Dunes Out Reach Team and the trash issue.
everyone need to pony up and get the dollers up to fight this battle.
the war is not over yet just mid battle....Tim the trash guy
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Post by jhitesma » Fri Mar 17, 2006 1:17 am

Vincent J Brunasso wrote:
This time they did at least get a short quote from you even if 90% of their article was taken verbatim from the CBD press release. (Maybe if we had gotten a release on their desk within hours of the decision the article would have been more balanced...but like I said before facts take longer than rhetoric.)
Keep in mind that CBD is not unpaid volunteers...
Which is why I suggested that the only real solution to the "information gap" may be the ASA having to hire a firm or someone to handle PR.

As others have mentioned yes the Sun does have names on a list to contact...but when they have a couple of hours to get a story out and the people on that list are either in dune related meetings, at work, talking to lawyers finding out what happened, at the dunes relaxing....the reporters don't try more than one or maybe two numbers to get a contact.

Like I said at least this time they were able to contact Vince to get a quote. But there have been a number of ocasions when the reporters went through several names and weren't able to get in touch with anyone official in time to include it in a story.

The big problem this time is the other side doing what they always do and repeating the same rehetoric whether or not it's factual and then claiming this as a huge win (since at this point for them nothing happening IS a win) which makes it sound like much bigger news to the public than it is.

Of course we can anticiapte that they'll do that since they do it every single time and we should have press releases ready to go with general info for any possibilities on things like this so that we have an equal chance at gaining the headlines.

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Post by Voice » Fri Mar 17, 2006 12:09 pm

Of course we can anticiapte that they'll do that since they do it every single time and we should have press releases ready to go with general info for any possibilities on things like this so that we have an equal chance at gaining the headlines.
There's what I was trying to get at...

Consider... this was news for about 2 days...
Any article written after the CBD put out their release definantly included info from that release... There is no "other side" because the other side didn't publish anything.

Now, we do our own press release, but it's too late. The stories have already been written and this issue is once again on the back burner.
No reporter is looking to write a story about it. Our release will not get quoted.
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Post by FunRunner » Fri Mar 17, 2006 3:58 pm

We couldn't and shoudn't have expected much more from this judge. She has shown her colors in the past; why would she change now? certainly not because it was the right thing to do. She has figured out a way to rule, in which there has been no clear cut ruling; ie, might as well not have happened, because everything remains status quo; correct me if I'm wrong.
Well, we never expected it to be easy; it hasn't been, and likely won't be. I doubt the new Sec of Interior will make any big difference in the whole mix of things.....We sure could use some switch in the complexion of makeup on the bench; things aren't looking very promising for the GOP currently, which could mean there will be a change in the power structure; for all the good it has done the way it is;
So nothing much has changed, which means all is not lost, and nothing much gained, which means all is not ok in Dunetown, USA.
What Poiks said bears some attention; the one bite at a time theory will make the whole deal disappear in time.
Hopefully what the ASA and others have done, will forestall that from ever happening.

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