Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Motion for Summary Judgment Filed Seeking to Overturn Destructive Levels of ORV Use in Big Cypress National Preserve
On behalf of several conservation organizations and individuals, we recently filed a motion for summary judgment in a case challenging a 2007 decision by the National Park Service that reversed an earlier decision by the agency to close the same Off-Road Vehicle (“ORV”) trails due to serious concerns about environmental damage and harm to highly endangered Florida panthers. Some of the plaintiffs are responsible for obtaining a settlement in 1995 that required a comprehensive ORV Management Plan in the Preserve (which was issued in 2000), and for subsequently defending the ORV Plan from legal challenges pursued by ORV users. The decision challenged in the current lawsuit violated both the 1995 Settlement Agreement and various federal environmental laws (NPS Organic Act, Executive Orders 11644 and 11989, NEPA, and the Endangered Species Act) because NPS reopened trails that the ORV Plan requires to be closed on resource protection grounds, and did so without any environmental analysis or meaningful public participation.