Last week, the Center for Biological Diversity filed an appeal of the Gila National Forest’s travel management plan. The CBD claimed that the plan “imperiled frogs, fish, and birds” by allowing off-road vehicles to use 3,000 miles of roads.
The Gila National Forest plan sets aside 24% of its land for non-motorized use and increasing this percentage will limit public access for recreational activity.
Congressional Western Caucus Co-Chair Steve Pearce of New Mexico said, “Once again, the Center for Biological Diversity is suing to restrict citizens from accessing their national forests. Just recently the Gila National Forest announced a travel management plan that closed hundreds of miles of trails and roads. The Center for Biological Diversity decided that their lawyers should have the exclusive right to dictate where citizens can go in the Gila National Forest. Their self-serving actions will jeopardize tourism in Western New Mexico, calling into question radical environmental groups’ constant declarations that sectioning off our lands will create tourism jobs. There is no tourism without access.”
“National Forests are multiple-use public lands designed to accommodate a variety of uses and Gila National Forest in New Mexico is no different,” said Chairman Lummis. “We must curtail attempts like this to undermine the multiple-use ideals upon which these lands were established. Proper public land management requires balance, including consideration of the needs of those who live near the land,” said Co-Chair Cynthia Lummis.
The Center acknowledges that new plan closes much of the San Francisco River to motorized access, but that isn’t enough. They want the area completely closed to vehicles. “If we’re going to keep these river areas wild and livable for wildlife, we just can’t have off-road vehicles coming in and causing damage. They need to be completely closed to motorized recreation,” said Katie Davis, public lands campaigner at the Center.
The Center also says that while “the Forest Service’s recent travel management decision takes several important steps toward reducing the harm from motorized trails on the Gila’s waters and wildlife,” it “falls short,” of meeting their demands.
The Center can be counted on to find problems with human use of public lands. In his article The Flaws in the Endangered Species Act, Jonathan DuHamel writes that the Center is a radical environmental group, “who think newts and moths are more important than the elderly or our children.”
Rosemont Copper Mine Senior Vice President James A. Sturgess said last year that the “Center has a history of gaining millions of our federal tax dollars through intimidation and litigation.” Sturgess cited an interview in which, Kieran Suckling, founder of the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), says, “New injunctions, new species listings and new bad press take a terrible toll on agency morale… Psychological warfare is a very underappreciated aspect of environmental campaigning. The core talent of a successful environmental activist is not science and law. It’s campaigning instinct. That’s not only not taught in the universities, it’s discouraged.”
The Center activists have learned the art of psychological warfare and have routinely practiced it in the western states.